By: Nana Lal Salvi, District Project Coordinator (SBM-G)
Here are two inspiring stories from Rajsamand in Rajasthan that affirm the importance people are giving to having a toilet in their homes. They are undoubtedly a result of the Government’s Swachh Bharat Mission Grameen (SBM-G) campaign that over the past 5 years has propagated the need to use toilets and practice safe sanitation for the health and wellbeing of the whole community.
Ramchand Paliwal (77), a Divyang (physically impaired), and an elder of Upali Odan village in Panchayat Samiti Khamnor built a cast-iron superstructure for his toilet during the lockdown when he was unable to secure cement, sand, or bricks. This is his story:
It was at age 9 that Ramchand suffered a disability on one of his feet owing to a fall while playing outside. To make matters worse, he fell off the roof of his house while drying clothes when he was 15, that injured his second foot and leg. As a result, his teenage years and beyond were characterised by feelings of distress with treatment after treatment that proved to be in vain. He was unable to walk without support.
In due course, Ramchand became a pandit but could not get married because of his disability. Not having a toilet in his home, he would go into the forest to relieve himself. It was extremely difficult, particularly during bad weather.
The SBM-G campaign seemed like an answer to his prayers. He read all the handouts and attended awareness sessions on the importance of using toilets. The community toilet built in his village was useful. He made use of it but owing to his disability, he longed to have a toilet in his home.
Determined to get his toilet, he came across a cast iron workshop and ordered a cast-iron superstructure for his toilet, with the encouragement of the panchayat. It cost him Rs. 20,000 which he paid with the help of the Rs.12,000 incentive provided by the district administration for eligible beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, Badami Devi, a resident of Banjara Basti of Sadri Panchayat in Railamgara region wanted a toilet in her home.
Banjara Basti is home to 50 households, most of which had toilets except for six families including that of Badami Devi’s. The couple had no option but to use a neighbour’s toilet.
Impatient to build her own, Badami Devi borrowed Rs. 5,000 by mortgaging her gold chandelier earrings.
On hearing about the woman who had mortgaged her jewellery, Panchayat officials organised transfer of the SBM-G incentive amount of Rs 12,000 into Badami Devi’s account without delay.
With the money in her account, Badami Devi could visit the bank soon and get back the gold earrings that she mortgaged.