You see, it had an important relation to both health, sanitation and the economic well being of a family. Sanitation for the obvious reason and health because a lot of people did not think it was important to wash hands after defecation. This meant that the germs and pathogens could easily pass on to the entire family leading to illness. Illness meant two things; one that there would be medical expenditure to cure the disease and second, if the breadwinner of the family were to fall ill, then the family would be in financial trouble especially if it was a long term disease. So what could we do?Well, we were told one important thing; “It is very difficult to sell the idea of a toilet in a village. But if you could get one person to adopt it, then others would eventually follow suit”.We bright eyed young social workers took this statement to heart and started working towards understanding people’s mentality about health and sanitation in their village.One thing was certain, we had to raise awareness about the issue so that people understood its gravity. We took this too heart and during each and every field work, health and sanitation were given top priority. We decided to start off with children as their minds are more open to newer ideas.
Through nukkad natak, games and showing videos, we taught them the basics of hygiene. We told them the importance of washing their hands with soap, taking a bath daily and not littering the village.
These were the small initiatives that we took in the period of one month.
But the bigger issues like building toilets was beyond our reach. Yes, we counseled women and told them about various schemes available but the final decision was of their husbands. They had tried applying for a toilet under Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan but we all know how government schemes work.
I hoped for a better India, with toilets in every household and basic hygiene being followed but I was in for a big disappointment. It was not easy to get even one person build one, forget about the rest of India.
It was then that I resolved to make my own hygiene wish list which I would work towards fulfilling in the future.
Soap or ash usage in every household to wash hands.
- Toilets in every household or at least one toilet for every 3 to 4 households
- Clean public toilets in the cities and towns
- Spotless streets with no litter and dustbins in every corner
- Eco friendly sewage system where all waste would be reused as compost in the future
Don’t think, just act
Did you spot a person throwing wrapper? Instead of thinking what a bad person he or she is, why don’t you call them out and request them to throw it in a bin? Or if the person refuses to listen, calmly pick it up yourself and ensure that there is no litter around. The time for thinking is long past gone. If India needs to become clean, we all need to act and FAST!