For as long as she could remember, Babu Bai (38) from Toomdar village of Amod gram panchayat (GP) in the tribal block of Phalasiya in Udaipur had been going out to answer nature’s call. Waking up while it was still dark and seeking a secluded spot to defecate was something she was used to doing. However, to see her new daughter-in-law of a few months – Mewa Devi (20), face similar struggles bothered her immensely.
Her husband Bhim Raj (40) and son Prakash Kumar (22) did not fully understand their problem. How could they? They did not care too much about privacy or the need to uphold their dignity; nor did they have to deal with issues such as menstruation. Being men, they were free to defecate in the open at any time of the day or night.
For women on the other hand, the situated was a stark contrast. In the event of wanting to relieve themselves during the day, it was a challenge that they and other women in the area had to face on a daily basis. More often than not, they had to control themselves and wait for an opportune time and seek the right amount of seclusion to do the job.
Members of the District Swachh Bharat Mission team visited Babu Bai’s home recently. Conveying to her the ill effects of open defecation on health, well being and progress of the community, they motivated her to construct a toilet at home. The GP Sarpanch and Secretary encouraged her to go for a toilet and convinced her that it could be done.
A toilet in her home! It seemed an answer to her prayers. The idea grew on her until she decided she had to come up with a plan to finance the facility. The only asset that she owned, and was willing to part with was her ornaments. She made the necessary enquires and within a few days mortgaged her jewellery for Rs 4,500 and managed to buy construction material for a toilet and bathroom. She knew that the advantages of having a toilet surpassed need for owning any material assets. Willingly she chose to give away her material asests to ensure the health and safety of her family. She is proud to start a revolution in her village.
The brand new toilet cum bathroom is a possession that Babu Bai’s family looks upon with pride now. It was worth the expense. They continue to motivate others in the neighbourhood to do likewise.