A toilet takes precedence

Maangi, Jaipur

For most people, worries, doubts and fears are a normal part of life.  But for 60-year-old Maangi Devi, there was a time in her life during which worrying was a regular feature, every day.  When she was not worrying about her four daughters going out to relieve themselves at the break of dawn, she feared someone would chance upon them as they bathed in their semi constructed shelter which they called their home.

Life had certainly dealt a hard blow to the daily wage earner who is a resident of Malikpura village in Govindgarh Block of Jaipur District in Rajasthan.  A few cattle were the sole means of livelihood for the single parent and she often supplemented her income by working as a farm help nearby.

Even though all her daughters are married now, life continues to be a struggle for Maangi.  Water shortage is a major concern for the people of the Malikpura and since the village is densely populated, there is not much space to defecate in the open without being noticed.

When she heard about the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin campaign, she was more than interested.  She attended the panchayat meetings that were organized in her neighbourhood and listened with interest about the need for a toilet.  The district administration also demonstrated how a toilet could be built easily over a little space.  Moreover, they discussed at length the health benefits toilets could bring for the whole community.

For Maangi, it was the privacy it would offer; as also the wellbeing of everyone.  So she discussed the prospect of building a toilet with her neighbor who encouraged her to get a toilet.  In fact, it seemed an answer to all her prayers.  It would offer protection, dignity and respect that she and her visiting daughters and grand-daughter desperately needed.

That her semi-constructed house needed to be renovated and completed, she was well aware.  However, the need for a toilet took precedence and she decided to build a cemented toilet, right beside her house.  She wanted it to have adequate space for bathing as well.

As far as finances were concerned, Maangi had limited resources.  Therefore she approached the village authorities and appealed to them for support.  Seeing her determination, the Sarpanch of the village offered her sufficient funds in the form of a personal loan which she used to get a toilet built at her home.  Maangi is now a proud owner of a toilet with a bathing space.

For Malikpura to become open defecation free, around 103 toilets are yet to be built for families that are economically backward.

(With inputs from ZSBP – Jaipur)

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