This summer, Palmetto High School rising senior Adyant Khanna has been in India working with his younger brother, Arin, to bring water to remote villages.
“I’m a first generation American. My family is Indian,” he says. “These past few summers I’ve been doing a project in India. I consider it my second home.”
In the summer after freshman year, his grandparent’s servant Jammu took Khanna to his village.
“I saw the conditions. One thing his village is lacking is accessible water,” he says. “Many women have to walk miles every day to hand pump the water.”
In 2017, Khanna and his brother raised more than $10,000 to be used to provide water to villages.
“We tried to make it a sustainable model,” he says. “We provide water taps to every single household in the village.”
Khanna and his brother went to the villages on their own, without their parents.
“We wanted to reach out to the people in India who get no attention,” he says. “We wanted to communicate what they are facing. We put our money together. We brought in engineers. We worked out a model that would bring water to all these people. When I got to India, I realized it would be a much bigger challenge. Mobilizing the community to understand what we were doing was a challenge.”
He was looking at providing water to three villages, more than 300 households that house more than a thousand people.
“There was a community well,” he says. “It was very dirty, so we cleared it out. We built a pipeline around the village. We purchased solar panels, we purchased the tank. There will be a water pump, it would pump water into the tank and distribute the water throughout the community.”
The villages are about an hour’s drive from where his grandparents live. Before starting, he reached out to local people who were field workers and had good relationships with the communities he was working with.
“They helped by telling the communities what I was going to do,” he says. “They helped with the language. I can speak Hindi, but the villagers speak a dialect.”
They’ve continued to fundraise and in June they had $17,000 for the project. He has a board of directors and is working on forming a non-profit.
“This year I want to focus on bringing more jobs to the community and women’s empowerment,” he says.
He plans to continue to provide water to the villages even when he goes away to college.
“From this project I’ve learned a lot about planning ahead of time, communicating with all my sources,” he says. “And working with all aspect of engineering. It’s changed my life and made me realize how blessed we are.”
Khanna found the time this year to complete his Boy Scout Eagle project. In February, he went to the Miami Bridge in Homestead and did exterior landscaping, built benches, placed stones in the front, and restored a volleyball court.
“We wanted to make the facility have a more homey feeling,” he says.
At Palmetto he’s vice president of tutoring for Mu Alpha Theta, a tutor for Tutoring for Tomorrow and is on the Student Council Senate. He’s the president of the Psychology Club, a member of the National Honor Society and a Science National Honor Society member. He’s been on the Envirothon team that placed first in the regional and went on to the state competition.
He’s on the state champion varsity tennis team and a member of the Pinecrest Youth Advisory Council.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld