The silver lining for debut author and high school student Arjun Vij during the pandemic was writing and publishing his children’s book In Bad Water (May 17, 2021). When he was not doing remote learning, his free time prompted him to think about his time in Eswatini, a life-changing event that inspired his clean water activism.
“One thing I did was, I just imagined the trip that I took,” the indie novelist tells So Booking Cool. “It was in my head, but I wanted to do some action towards helping those people. I was like ‘It’s the perfect time. I’m spending a lot of time at home, having multiple hours basically doing nothing, and so I was like ‘Why I don’t start beginning my book?’”
Vij read a variety of books like Dr. Seuss, Junie B. Jones, Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson as a young child. Amid the pandemic, he discovered a love for telling stories of his own. In Bad Water is a story that captures some of the challenges youth face when they lack access to clean water—something he witnessed during his school trip to South Africa.
“We took a bus to Eswatini,” the California-based activist recalls. “We went to a village. It was a beautiful village; it was really scenic…the view was just magnificent.”
He thought it was so cool. But upon looking further, he noticed something that confused him. “The first thing I saw were people dancing around the well. I was like ‘why is everyone dancing around the well?’ That seemed unusual to me.”
He decided to ask a villager about it. “He told me that ‘We finally got clean water.’”
Vij fundraised towards building wells in African villages and hopes to continue to raise awareness about the global water crisis, a crisis he feels is largely unknown. Watch the interview to learn more about Vij, In Bad Water, activism, the advice he got from Kobe Bryant, and more. For more information, visit Vij’s official website.