Our Founder’s Story
Shilpa Alva, Executive Director, United States
My motivation to start Surge began when I was a child visiting family in India. I saw children my age who didn’t have the luxury of playing; instead many were fetching water. Even as a seven year old child, I saw the inequity – children should not have to bear this kind of responsibility for their family’s survival.
When I was 21, I spent a few months on a teaching assignment in Rajgarh, a remote Indian village. Many of my students missed school due to water-borne illnesses or constraints. I once again witnessed how access to water was a fundamental precursor to attending school – and getting a proper education.
The founding of Surge in 2008 was in response to this essential need and a calling.
In 2014, this calling intensified. All this while, I was running Surge while also managing a successful Management Consultant career. I realized that I had to go all in to bring Surge to its full potential. And so I started to spend more time in the communities where we work. This is how Surge’s community-led, women centered model came to be. I listened to and learned from the locals and understood that in order to drive sustainable change it had to be them driving the agenda on their terms and timeline.
Today, a global team of talented staff and volunteers run Surge. And together with the local communities where we work, we are making a transformational difference.