As I sit here before the screen of my laptop I can hardly believe I am typing these words. For five years I have watched the struggle of this family. My name is S.K.S and I am 25 years old. I was born and raised in the United Sates; my husband, born and raised in Punjab,India in a small viallge in the city of Jalandhar. It all began with the death of his father. As you can imagine, women still do not work in many parts of India, escpecially rural villages. Before his death, the family was poor and struggling financially to make ends meet. My husband and his brother grew up working in glass and steel factories from the age of 9 while doing side labor jobs for other villagers. Their older sister quickly finished high school and began working as a local elementary school teacher. The father worked away from home, weeks on end, as a truck driver who transported goods between cities while the mother stayed home and cared for the domestic duties. The combined income of these jobs provided less than 50 dollars monthly and their way of living, like so many others, was hand-to-mouth. Their once lush acres of agricultural crops were flooded in the 80's and surrendered to the government. They own a small plot and a few livestock. Unable to send any of their three children to attend college, due the family's financial problems, the three worked hard into their adulthood. They struggled to marry off their eldest daughter, borrowing from relatives and taking out loans from local shops. When the time came for their oldest son to marry, they put off their search as they had nothing to offer a new bride and her family. The loving and loyal nature of my husand and his family blinded me from their economic status and lack of money. They showed me the love of family and welcomed me with open arms. The death of his father came just two weeks after our engagement. He had fallen in a dried up well in the heat of the summer season. As the oldest son, my husband is now responsible for the financial well being of the entire hosuehold.
After we married, I returned to the U.S. to study and finish college, graduating in the fall and my husband arrived shortly before. We've been married for nearly 3 years now and the financial and emotional stress is more than we can bear. As a young couple, we are suffocating in a heap of debt...student loan debt, like the rest of young America. As a graduate I am left with more than $70,000 in accrued educational loan debt.
All the while, we are struggling to prepare for our future dreams of owning a home and starting a family. These dreams have been tossed aside to help our beloved familt in India; to repair broken wells that supply running water, sick cows from which we must sell milk, and everyday expenses such as electricity, transporation fare (they do not have a car/motorcycle) and food and medicine for the family and livestock. With all of the expenses, the two-room cement shack has gone neglected. It is unpainted, un-insulated, and UN-LIVEABLE. The roof is crumbling and falling down, the cement walls are cracking, the windows and few and some broken, the sewage system is atrocious, there are no flushing toilets, water must be heated over a clay oven hearth (even to bathe), the refrigerator constantly shorts and there is no washing machine (all clothes must be washed, strained and dried by hand...this is extremely difficult during raining seasons and when washing denim jeans/blankets and bedding).
WHO WILL LIVE IN THE NEW HOME: Mother in-law, brother in-law and future wife, grandfather and occaisionally: sister in-law and two small children
WHERE YOUR MONEY WILL GO:
-New roof (stucco/tin)
-Remodled home, adding on additional rooms (4 total), kitchen and full bathroom
-New thatch pen for livestock (1)
-Washing Machine (1) and Stove (1)
-Flushing toilets (2)
-New well system, electric, plumbing and sewage
-Car or motorcycle/scooter (If the funds needed are raised and we have enough left over)