Rural India is taking leads in Swachh Bharat Mission. Here are some strong stories of courage and determination, where individuals are changing things, one village at a time
· The women of Ratanpur in Madhya Pradesh were habituated to waking up early in the morning, so they could go into the fields to defecate before others came. One day they had an epiphany, and 10 of them resolved to build toilets near their home. They dug pits and strung up old bedsheets and sarees around each pit for privacy. Their effort caught the attention of the local authorities who encouraged them to form a Shauch Mukt Samiti. Along with a local NGO Yuva Forum, the samiti began a campaign against defecating in the open. Their determined efforts ensured the village is largely free of open defecation but the women still wake up early and go to the fields, but this time to discourage would-be defecators with whistles, flashlights and bhajans on sanitation.
· The Dabba Dhol Gang of Pipaliya Mira village in MP is famous (or notorious). Headed by 12-year-old Dharmesan, you might catch them marching around the village and the fields nearby with whistles around their necks. Their task is to catch people defecating in the open and empty the water container they carry for cleaning themselves. The name and shame strategy has worked and Pipaliya Mira was recently declared open defecation free. The Dabba Dhol Gang is now scaling up their activities by training kids from nearby villages.
· If only 12 homes of 220 in your village have toilets, you would think twice before vowing to make the village open defecation free. But Rashida Ravani, Panchayat Secretary of Kesla village in Rajnandgaon district of Chattisgarh was open to the challenge. She and some volunteers vowed to celebrate Eid only after their village was free of open defecation. It took them a lot of effort to convince villagers to build toilets at their home, getting masons to do the job and motivating people to actually start using them. Eventually, two days after Eid, the village received the official notice declaring it open defecation free. For Kesla’s residents, it was a twin celebration.
· Haryana and Haryanvis are notorious for their attitude towards women. In Oontkar village, the women aren’t discouraged by male attitudes. They have been proactive in keeping the village clean and hygienic. Regular meetings are held, where cleanliness and hygiene are discussed at length and concrete plans are charted out for execution. They’ve even composed a song titled ‘Mere ghar mein sauchalya banao piya jee’ (Please build a toilet in my house, my beloved).
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