I lived in Noida in my schooling days and every morning I remember passing through a area that was still under- developed. The area remains in my mind because it used to stink badly. I would stick my handkerchief to my nose tightly as my bus crossed it. One day I passed that part of the land in the early hours of morning, what I saw was sad. Children were defecating in the open. That was the day when I had my first encounter with the truth and my father told me that India has a huge population of people who do not have access to sanitation infrastructure. It was disturbing for me. On my small scale, in standard 10th my friends and I did a small scale project where we visited the nearby villages and educated people of using the toilet vans provided in their areas because many villagers were not using it even if they had access to it.
Everyday in the cities we talk about politicians, black money, scams, cricket, weather, glamor, fashion, kissing in the open but not something as important as sanitation facilities because we aren’t much affected. Coca cola cans, mobile phones, fashion has reached our villages but files sanctioning sanitation facilities are still eating storm and dust in government offices. I wonder why health practices are last in our priorities.
Today’s post will not have me talking but a cute, little girl Babli.
Babli is a girl who lives in a village close to a city across the railway tracks. Her slum area does not have a proper toilet. She is among the many who are most impacted by the lack of sanitation facilities in our country. She is growing up, her teacher in the school is tecahing her many good things and she is learning to question things around her. The bubbly girl is here to talk about the problem of open defecation and Domex drive. Please read her mind because she is representing 597 million people of India who defecate in the open.
I am Babli. My age is twelve years old.
Few months back, one day a teacher had come to my village. She insisted my parents to send me to school. On enough coaxing, they agreed. Thus I started going to school. I like going to school. My school has classrooms, blackboards, play-area and a toilet too. It feels so safe to pee in the closed area. My teacher has taught us that one should use toilets for peeing and defecation. She often tells us that we must teach our parents too about sanitation, hygiene, health but I do not know what is proper sanitation infrastructure as we do not have one in our area. Everyday we have to look for fields, forests, bushes, bodies of water, hole in the ground, river, stream or other open spaces to attend our nature’s call. It feels so unsafe and shameful when others are sitting around us. The girls and boys of our area all use the open. My teacher has told me this is called open defecation. She says it is not healthy and we must use toilets. Many young children die because of these dirty habits. Now, I know why my brother had died after six days of his birth. The village doctor had diagnosed diarrhea and my teacher says unclean habits around us lead to untimely deaths of just born children.
My elder sister is getting married in few months. My teacher has told her to find out if her husband’s house has a toilet. If not she must refuse to marry. Madam says that we must tell our parents that marry us only in a village that practices total sanitation. I told my mother but I think she did not understand much. I often ask my mother why she has never done anything about open defecation. She has never questioned my father about it. She prefers to remain mum though I know she feels bad to defecate in the open. She once told me there was a toilet bus in the village but females were not allowed to use it. Villagers did not want to change their behavior. Later the men also stopped using it and the bus ate the dust.
My teacher has also told me that our Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is also prioritizing this issue and has launched a nation wide campaign Swacch Bharat. My teacher says cleanliness drive is just not the solution, we need more driving forces like Domex who are promoting the benefits of clean toilets & good hygiene. They run the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) programme. Their efforts have helped to makes toilets more accessible and affordable. There has been a change in the villages of Maharashtra and Orissa. If you click, they will help my village too to have proper sanitation facilities. We need toilets.
Special request to bloggers, please blog about #ToiletForBabli and join Domex.