Hi! I'm Anoop! I was born in Calgary, Alberta, out in Western Canada. I lived there until I was 6. My dad's job in the oil and gas industry moved us to Syria next. We lived there for 4 years until we got shipped to Scotland. After 3 years living in western Europe, we moved one more time to New Orleans where I went to high school. After that, I went to Northwestern University, just outside of Chicago, where I studied Environmental Engineering.
My passion in life has always been service work. Though I was lucky to get a job right out of college in the engineering sector, I was not so sure that is what I wanted to do long term. In the summer of 2006, between my sophomore and junior year at Northwestern, I traveled to northwest India to teach English to Tibetan refugees. I fell in love with the community and promised that I would return one day to contribute in a larger capacity.
About two weeks after starting my new job (after college), I got in touch with the director of the organization I had volunteered with in India. I told him that I had just finished university and that I was looking to give back to his community in a bigger way. I asked him what projects I could help with. He informed me that they had been wanting to start a community soup kitchen, a facility that would provide free, healthy meals, to refugees living there. He told me that they needed to raise $25,000 to build this new center. I told him I would do it!
Between September of 2009 and May of 2010, I raised just over $26,000. I quit my job two weeks after raising the money, got on a plane, and headed to India. Since that summer, I have been obsessed with public health, and how simple essential it is for people to stay healthy in order to lead successful lives. My mother always says, "your first wealth is health".
Later that summer I traveled to the state of Bihar. Bihar is the poorest state in India. I went with a friend to his village. He had told me that there was desperate need for public health interventions there. When I got there, the one problem that stuck out the most was the lack of toilets. This is not a problem that is unique to this part of India. Over 650 million Indians are forced to defecate outside every day! The lack of toilets means that tons of human waste is left untreated out in the open, contaminating water and food sources. This leads to diarrheal disease, which can have serious effects on vulnerable individuals.
Since that trip, I have been obsessed with toilets. I want to provide toilets to Indians because it is such a basic human right. Toilets preserve and restore human dignity. They prevent disease. They are an essential piece of infrastructure that can have a tremendous impact on the well being of a human.
I have been working on this project for two years now. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that my life would be consumed with toilets! I am grateful for this journey that I am on, and look forward to where it takes me next!