Bringing toilet, and dignity, to masses.

Usually I don’t write about social causes–not because they don’t matter, but mostly because I don’t believe I can bring a change by writing about them. But this time when I heard about Domex’s and Indiblogger’s #ToiletforBabli initiative, I couldn’t resist.

Let me explain you what this is about. In Indian villages, one of the major issue is of “open defecation”. The dark mornings in these places are punctuated with the villagers (children, adult, women, girls, boys–everyone) going to the fields with an old water can/bottle in their hands to finish their morning chores. Few of my distant elder relatives still call nature’s call as  “Dabba lekar jana” or “carrying the water can”. Mostly for women and girls, this is done at the time when sun has not yet risen so as to protect themselves from the lingering eyes.

I’m a city dweller. I have been to a village only once in my life, that too for some relative’s wedding ceremony. I remember being shaken up at 3:30 a.m. in the morning and  being ordered to go out and “clean” my stomach (I’m quoting verbatim here). I remember the bile that rose because of the stench in the field, the embarrassment because I felt everybody was looking at me, and the fear because I could hear the bark of dogs from somewhere. I just wanted to finish the things quickly and go back to the safety of the house.  I count that as one of the most humiliating experience of my life. Before that day, villages held a charm for me—after all who doesn’t want to wander in the wheat fields and enjoy the freshness of being near(or under) the tube-well, but after that, I promised myself never to visit the village. And I didn’t. I didn’t even go to my best friend’s wedding which was held in a village of Bihar.

I am sure I don’t need to explain the diseases this open defecation can cause–we all are aware about it. But imagine running into the fields whenever the pressure arises; imagine the fear of thousand eyes peering at you while you’re sitting there, your most private part bared to the air; imagine the shame of defecating in open during the daytime if for some reason your stomach decides to protest; imagine walking down in the dark like thieves so that nobody else can see you. Open defecation is not only a health hazard– it’s a hazard to one’s self-esteem and confidence; it’s the question mark on dignity.

There are many reasons why the toilets are not there. First and foremost reason is money. The people in these villages hardly earn enough to keep themselves fed and clothed. Toilets are the last thing on their mind. Second thing is the lack of awareness. Many of them don’t see anything unhealthy in defecating in open. They don’t understand how their “little act” can result in death due to diarrhea.

I’m so glad that government and companies like Domex are doing something in this regard. Domex has now started an initiative of building the toilets in the villages of Orissa and Maharashtra and make those places defecation-free zones. They have my appreciation and full support for that.

I know I cannot raise an awareness in the villages with this post. But I am counting on you people. It’s said that you can fill the ocean with drops. This blogpost is my attempt to add the drops to the ocean.

You also can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is “click” on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Bringing toilet, and dignity, to masses. | I Pen my Musings
  2. Rubina Ramesh
    Nov 18, 2014 @ 22:08:28

    Very well said Parichita. ‘Lota syndrome’ is another term used 😛 But I think the trend is changing. No? It will take time but I am sure the younger gen will not take this any longer.

    Reply

    • parichitasingh
      Nov 18, 2014 @ 22:12:01

      My parents don’t speak English at all, neither do my relatives. So “syndrome” word is out of their scope, but “lota” is a well-oiled word in the conversation. 😛

      And yes, times are indeed changing. Soon we’ll have a place where hygiene is demanded and preferred.

      Reply

  3. Sonia Lal
    Nov 18, 2014 @ 23:08:47

    I’ve seen men (no women! Or girls.) doing that when passing by on the train and I couldn’t believe my eyes.

    Reply

  4. aditebanerjie
    Nov 19, 2014 @ 10:32:34

    Agree 100% with you. But it is not just a rural problem alone. We can all raise awareness about it in our own way…and you have taken a step in the right direction. So kudos to you!

    Reply

    • parichitasingh
      Nov 19, 2014 @ 11:12:10

      I agree, Adite. This problem takes a different take in the city where there are no public toilets, esp for ladies, and if there are, they have never been cleaned.

      *sigh*

      But at least we are lucky enough to have toilets in our homes.

      Reply

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