Manchester City supporters have transformed impoverished children’s access to clean water in an Indian mega-city which is fast running out.
The Premier League champions part-funded an initiative to provide safe supplies in the rapidly growing metropolis of Bangalore, which is predicted to go dry next year.
Teachers at a state school wore bright red saris as they gathered at a gleaming new water tower built by football fan volunteers organised by the club and its partners.
A rangola song of blessing in the local language of Kannada was chanted, a coconut broken and a string of orange and yellow marigolds cut.
Shashikala, an English teacher for more than two decades, said: “Seeing this our children will know that they are not any less than any private school.”
At home some youngsters have to drink boiled water as they cope with poverty.
Bangalore is a sprawling and traffic-choked urban area of southern India.
Outlying areas are entirely dependant on untreated bore well groundwater and levels are rapidly diminishing as more people move in from rural regions.
City’s intervention alongside local and international partners is designed to make the most of the supplies that remain.
On Thursday 14th February, in just three hours, volunteers used hand tools and muscle to bolt together the clean water tower using carbon-based filtration technology at the school for around 1,200 children.
Carbon is more cost-effective in smaller projects and easier for teachers to maintain than commercial projects, said Xylem, the multinational behind the technology.
A major part of the intervention, which will be monitored for five years, involves education about the importance of hand washing and basic hygiene.
On Thursday volunteers led games involving drawing germs, or moving around points on a floor mat – illustrating washing hands or cleaning teeth – which corresponded to correct answers to questions.
The point was to make the sessions fun, so the children would absorb the importance of scrubbing hands.
Chathan Kumar, 12, said: “I feel very happy for good water because we need good health and you want to keep your good health.”
The building was spotless and brightly painted, with doors made of corrugated metal.
Visitors received a ceremonial welcome in a dusty central courtyard.
White-shirted boys and girls wearing long dresses with bows in their plaits and shy smiles stood straight-backed. A few had the flag of India on their lapels.
The boys’ white-gloved hands were pressed palm to palm in a welcoming gesture as they stood guard-of-honour style.
The crash of drums and gold-coloured cymbals deafened as the school adopted a festival atmosphere for its guests as it marked the arrival of safe water, and red henna was painted on foreheads.
Levels of groundwater are plummeting and at least six people from Bangalore seek approval every day to dig new bore wells, the Times of India has reported.
Outlying areas of the city of more than 12 million residents depend on wells.
Supplies can remain elusive, even after drilling more than 600ft underground.
Manchester City volunteer and bank worker Colin Dalton, 49, is from Sandbach in Cheshire, but originally hails from Oldham in Greater Manchester.
He is a Sky Blue from birth, like his father and grandfather.
Mr Dalton said: “I had no idea the size and scale of what City did in giving back.
“Everyone should have that element if they have the ability, you should try to give back in whatever way is for you.
“For City to be doing this and the size and scale they are doing it on here and in Manchester – I have been blown away by it all.”
The club and its partners pledge £400,000 each year divided among six projects for causes like that in Bangalore.
This weekend’s FA Cup Fifth Round fixtures:
Saturday 16th February
Brighton & Hove Albion v Derby County – 12:30pm
AFC Wimbledon v Millwall – 3:00pm
Newport County v Manchester City – 5:30pm
Sunday 17th February
Bristol City v Wolverhampton Wanderers – 1:00pm
Doncaster Rovers v Crystal Palace – 4:00pm
Swansea City v Brentford – 4:00pm
Monday 18th February
Chelsea v Manchester United – 7:30pm
Picture: Manchester City volunteer and bank worker Colin Dalton, 49, (right) from Sandbach in Cheshire but originally hails from Oldham in Greater Manchester, interacts with students at a public government school in Bangalore, India, as he helps to install a water tower for the pupils which is part funded by Premier League champions Manchester City. (Abhishek N.Chinnappa/Cityzens Giving/PA).