After facing any sort of humiliation, it’s hard to keep your emotions in check. Pointing a finger, shifting blame, and letting your anger guide you is all too easy. What’s impressive, though, is when someone can redirect those bad feelings into something positive.

When upper-caste elites denied one man’s wife water from a well, it would have been simple —albeit stupid — to become violent. Instead, he set out to do something that would change his village forever, even though everyone told him he was only wasting his time…

It takes a certain level of self-control to channel humiliation into something positive. Yet, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, that’s precisely what Bapurao Tajne set out to do after his wife was embarrassed by a group of upper-caste elites.

Like many societies across the world, India still operates on a caste system, and those in the upper levels hold a lot of power over those below them. This system has oppressed the less fortunate for countless generations.

The upper caste wields so much power that when Bapurao’s wife kneeled beside a well to fetch water for her thirsty family, the elites in the area did more than just refuse her. They also ridiculed and humiliated her.

So what did Bapurao do when he heard about the elites’ treatment of his wife? It would have been easy to do nothing or to lash out in anger against her aggressors…

Instead, he took all of his negative energy and anger, and he channeled it into something useful: he was going to dig a well for his own village to use!

 Over the past two years, weaker monsoons caused widespread droughts across India. Conditions got so bad that the government sometimes resorted to rationing water.

At first, he wasn’t sure where to dig. Location was important, after all, because, in order for a well to be successful, it needs to be replenished by flowing water.

Bapurao closed his eyes, prayed, and honed in on the first sun-worn spot he saw. This would be the site of his new well. It had to be.

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For eight hours every day, Bapurao worked his manual labor job, and when he returned home, he picked up a shovel and dug his well. It didn’t matter if he was tired or sore.

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He did this second job for six hours each day, digging into the hard soil as much as he could. Of course, it didn’t matter how much hard work he put into the well if he picked out a poor location. Would Bapurao ever find water? 

Days passed and Bapurao’s well grew wider and deeper, but still, no water filled it. The villagers — the would-be beneficiaries of Bapurao’s well — told him he was crazy.

Even his wife criticized him for wasting his time, until eventually, Bapurao doubted himself. Nonetheless, he kept digging. He just couldn’t give up. 

“It is difficult to explain what I felt in those days,” Bapurao said to The Times of India. “I just wanted to provide water for my whole locality so that we did not have to beg for water from other castes.”

After 40 days of digging, he finally found success! He struck his shovel into the hard, rocky soil, and a small stream of water trickled out.

Perhaps even more astonished at the sight of water were Bapurao’s neighbors. They’d mocked and ridiculed him, but there was water, right before their eyes.

Lucky for them, Bapurao was a forgiving man, and he encouraged everyone to use the well! They were still his neighbors, after all.

As for Bapurao’s wife, whose hardships inspired this whole project? She was a bit ashamed of herself: “I did not help him a bit until he struck water,” she said.

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But now she’s by her husband’s side, explaining, “It is already 15 feet deep. Bapurao wants to dig five feet further. We are hoping our neighbors will help us.”

News of Bapurao’s well spread like wildfire. Soon enough, news stations and papers poured into town, trying to get a few words from the man with the shovel.

Bapurao even got his own moment in the spotlight with an exclusive interview. You can check it out — with additional information on Bapurao’s deeds — in the video below!