Under the Swachh Bharat mission launched by Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, a new milestone has been achieved recently. In Alwar district of Rajasthan, students of Jatpur School built toilets to eradicate open defecation.
Interestingly, the funds for building the toilet were collected during marriage ceremonies. The money that came as shagun in marriage ceremonies was kept aside and saved for the purpose of building toilets at school.
“What the community started doing was – they simply started keeping all the shagun money separately that they used to get through marriage functions in the village. Within a few months’ the community saved enough money to get their children access to toilets in school”, said Ms Sangeeta.
Sangeeta Dadhich is helping children in getting access to safe sanitation. She is the Project Coordinator of AIMED NGO.
After the construction of toilets, the attendance has remarkably increased at school.
“ We always loved going to the school and learn new things, but, lack of toilets kept us away from it for many years,” said a group of children at Jatpur School, reports NDTV.
Swati Patel, the state manager of Plan India Jaipur highlighted the role of model school by saying, “We wanted to get the community together by creating awareness regarding sanitation so that together they all can fight for their swachhta. We formed children communities, parents’ communities and teacher communities and started educating them about how they can improve their swachh hygiene by following simple practices. We educated them on the need to construct toilets in schools. We focussed on educating more and more children so that they can take this ODF fight forward.”, reports NDTV.
This development has changed the way people used to look at toilets. They now know about diseases that spread because of open defecation that effect them individually and the society as a whole. Women and girls are relieved as they are no longer subject to the humiliation they faced because of defecating in open.
12 year old Karina convinced her parents to get a toilet constructed at home after she used the toilet at school. She says,”The first day, when I used a toilet at school, I realised, what I was missing for 12 years in my life. That day, when, I went back home, I asked my parents to construct one at home as well. So far, my journey without a toilet at school or home was very shameful. But, now, I am happy. My appeal to everyone out there, who is of my age and still going out in the open to defecate – it is the time, we should convince everyone out there to give us our basic right – access to a toilet.”
Karina is not the only one who persuaded her parents, there are many other students who did the same. The effect of this, today Ramghar village is declared as a open defecation free area.
Rajasthan today has the largest number of toilets that are constructed in India with 76.47 lakh toilets constructed since 2014. Rajasthan has achieved an ODF coverage of almost 100% .