Against the backdrop of Swachh Bharat Summer Internship 2019 announced by the Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Jal Shakti in May 2019, a total of 1502 students from the Cuddalore district of Tamil Nadu enrolled in the programme, committing to work for 60 hours on sanitation related matters in the villages of the district.
The objective of the programme jointly launched by the Rural Development Panchayat Raj, in association with the Government of Tamil Nadu aimed to engage youth across the district, develop their skills and orientation for sanitation related works and make Swachh Bharat Mission a jan andolan.
The internship began on 28th May and ended on 28th June, 2019 when students from various colleges including the famous Annamalai University had the opportunity during their summer vacation to dabble in community service in rural areas and gain practical knowledge on development parameters.
For starters, they were provided orientation on the Swachh Bharat Mission and activities that needed to be carried out at field level. Having been assigned to various villages, each team of five student interns along with a motivator went to the field and met with panchayat officials. They worked alongside the village community to put in place systems to improve and sustain hygiene and sanitation.
Among the activities they undertook were – demonstrating hand washing techniques to school and anganwadi children, sessions on person hygiene, mass cleaning, door to door campaign, segregation of waste at source, waste water management, nutrition gardening, etc. Skits, rallies, puppet shows helped build community awareness on safe sanitation, toilet usage and other pertinent issues.
Community service in rural area gave students valuable insights into the government’s requirement of human capital to reach a wider audience in sanitation related matters to achieve holistic development.
The experience paved the way for better understanding of the nature of work in a government setup, be it a district, block, panchayat or habitation, while promoting swachhata in villages.
The enthusiasm and interest shown by students in these activities was heartening. Having submitted their reports, some of them will be recognized by the District Collector at the forthcoming Independence Day public function.
Inputs: Chandra Sekar. N, ZSBP, Cuddalore