Experiences of Maharajganj Swachhagrahis in Gopalganj

A team of 15 Swachhagrahis from Maharajganj of Uttar Pradesh visited the Phulwaria block in Bihar’s Gopalganj district as a part of the Swachhagrahi se Satyagraha campaign in April 2018.  Their task was to trigger the communities there and bring about positive behaviour change so they would adopt safe sanitation practices.

Women willing to part with jewellery

People in the villages were very excited to see us and wanted to know why we were there.  We needed no further prompting to tell them about our mission and convey to them the importance of sanitation and the need to build and use toilets.  When the women heard that using toilets would protect the health of the family, particularly children and contribute to the well being of the whole community, they were moved.  They were willing to part with their precious jewellery so that their husbands would get their toilets constructed.  Their reactions inspired the visiting swachhagrahis, who were looking forward to returning to their homes in Maharajganj and make it open defecation free (ODF).

Children demand toilets, understand the shame of OD

Ahead of the visit to Bihar, during orientation, team Maharajganj had planned that they would show children how to wash hands and use toilets properly mentioning all the dos and don’ts, every time they motivated children.  Their intention was to make students understand the importance of sanitation and ask their parents to construct toilets in their homes.  It is such a shame for an educated person to defecate in the open, their message stressed.  Their efforts saw great response in all the blocks.  In fact, soon after triggering sessions, children accompanied the visiting team to homes of people to ask them to construct toilets.  Seeing this, people felt guilty and joined the mission and began to dig pits for their toilets.

Swachhagrahi to Swachhagrahi

The Swachh Bharat Mission is not just about construction of toilets; it is more about changing people’s behaviour towards sanitation.  Keeping that in mind, when the visitors reached their destination in villages of Bihar, they held discussions with the local swachhagrahis from Bihar.  They realised that some swachhagrahis were inadequately prepared to motivate and trigger people to use toilets. So the team spent considerable time with the swachhagrahis of Bihar discussing all the tools that were required for effective CLTS triggering.  The one-on-one discussions certainly went a long way to ensure that local and visiting swachhagrahis were on the same page in motivating people to participate in SBM-G and join the jan andolan.




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