Randa Chehab has been traveling back and forth to India since 2006. She opened a yoga center and was helping to implement exercise in schools and help girls with trauma. When a cyclone hit her village, she realized they needed something more basic than yoga.
"We need clean, safe water. We need water ATMs," says Chehab, "and so what do you do? I said, yes, I will get on that."
Chehab started India Water Project to provide clean water for villagers. Something that would later prevent her from getting back into the country in the Fall of 2022, even though she had a valid visa.
"I was met off the plane in the Trivandrum Airport, escorted to the immigration desk, ten fingerprinted, handed a boarding pass, and turned right around," says Chehab.
She was then immediately sent back to the United States.
"55 minutes on the ground in Trivandrum, back to Doha, back to Chicago," says Chehab. "I literally flew 40 hours."
Chehab later found out her fundraising work to provide villagers with clean water was the problem.
"The Foreign Regional Registration Office said I was blacklisted due to fundraising while on a business visa, but they used my written admission in my petition. I was very transparent," says Chehab.
Chehab hired a lawyer and has been seen in court but still has no answers as to when she'll be allowed to return to her work in India.
"I don't want compensation. I want justice. I did nothing wrong," says Chehab.
Chehab says she's not ready to give up on her girls in India.
"I'm deeply saddened, but I channel it into get the job done," she says. "My heart is with them, and that's what keeps me going."
Although Chehab is not currently in India, India Water Project is still working hard to get villagers access to clean water. If you are interested in donating, you can visit the India Water Project website.