Srilakshmi (18) who was completing her Intermediate (+2) in Narasaravepet town did not want to return to her home in the village Peddireddipalem which was 8 kms away to stay or even visit. How could she when they had no toilet facilities?
Having lived in town with access to sanitation facilities during the past four years, she did not plan to defecate in the open ever again. After all, she had learnt about the ill effects of open defecation. It was during awareness camps conducted in her college and hostel that Srilakshmi gathered information about good sanitation practices and the link between open defecation and disease.
Srilakshmi was fortunate to have received a scholarship under scheduled tribe (ST) category which met all her major expenses related to studies, although her parents occasionally, sent a little money for other expenses.
Of her decision, she knew her parents whom she visited during school holidays each year would not understand, but she was firm. She was also aware of their financial constraints, considering they were agricultural labourers. Moreover, their labour was seasonal for which they were paid daily wages. Under the circumstances they barely had enough for food.
Meanwhile, back home in Peddireddipalem, her mother Tirupatamma was at her wits end wondering how she would construct a toilet. They did not have enough even for the initial expenditure, let alone completing it. The family home was located in one of the most backward areas of the village.
At that point of time, the Gram Panchayat called for a meeting to discuss the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Hearing of all the benefits a toilet would bring, Srilakshmi’s family decided to go ahead with the construction of a toilet with the subsidy that was provided under the scheme.
“We would have constructed a toilet even if there was no financial assistance from the government, because our daughter was adamant about it. The Scheme was offered to us at the right time and that was a big help,” Tirupatamma said.
Home to 560 families, Peddireddipalem situated in Narsaraopet of Guntur District became ODF in 2015 after 112 toilets were built under the SBM (G).