No marriage until village becomes ODF: Gram Sevak

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Every once in awhile, you come across individuals who are willing to go the extra mile or two and make a bold stand for a worthy cause.  Kishore Vibhute, a 26-year-old Gram Sevak from Hivare village in Nashik district of Maharashtra was one such difference maker.  Convinced about the need for safe sanitation, he refused to tie the knot until his village became open defecation free (ODF).

After building 177 toilets, Hivare village was declared ODF in March 2017 and Vibhute was married to Sangita from Sangram village in the town on Udgir on 21st April, 2017 in a simple ceremony.  The whole village community bore witness to the proceedings; many of them went to thank him for his contribution towards making their village ODF.

In 2014, when the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched, the young Gram Sevak was among the first to offer his enthusiastic support.  He was convinced about the need for toilets and believed regular use by the entire community would contribute to good health, wellbeing and progress of the village.

At first, villagers were reluctant to build toilets inside their homes.  They were of the opinion that it was unhygienic to do so, Mr. Vimal Bennar, Sarpanch of Hivare, said.

According to CEO of the Zilla Panchayat, Mr. Milind Shambharkar, at that time, of the 351 households in the gram panchayat, just 174 homes had access to toilets.  Keen to help in any way that he could, Vibhute participated in all the SBM activities, including the awareness building exercises such as Good morning pathak, Tamrel mukti squad, group and corner meeting of villagers, film show, folk media, and meetings of Self help groups.

Deputy CEO, Mrs. Pratibha Sangamnere who held special gram sabhas for women to speak about the importance of safe sanitation recalls that Vibhute would also visit homes early in the morning to convince people to build and use toilets; and was encouraged by the positive response he got.

Around that time, since he was of a marriageable age, his family pressurized him to get married.   They found a suitable girl for him from a neighbouring district.  However, Vibhute refused, saying he would only get married when the whole village was made ODF.  It was certainly a proud moment for the young sevak when the ODF declaration was made.

The district officers tell the tale of another gram sevak – Sunil Tupe from Jaigaon village in Nashik who has been walking barefoot for almost 2 years now.  He resolved not to wear footwear until every home in his village gets a toilet.

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