Babli was deep in thought all the while during the return trip to her village. She had been to the city with her father again. He often went there to get materials for his trade. She loved going there with him and would always be mesmerized by the cars and the illumintated shops and the queer abscence of bullock carts on the roads.
Everytime she went to the city, Babli would be enthralled at the sight of one or the other things that her village lacked, but which was so common in the city. She had felt extremely thirsty and had asked baba to get some water for her.
Baba was in a good mood as he had made some good money in the trade the previous day and bought her one of the cold coloured drinks they got in the bottle near the bus stop. Perhaps it was the drink that made her want to pee badly. She told baba that she needed to answer nature’s call and began walking towards some shrubs there were along the roadside. Baba immediately stopped her and said that this was the city and that she could relieve herself in the public toilet. She could make nothing of what her baba said as all her life she had never even seen a toilet.
Whenever she the urge to pee, she would run behind some shrubs making sure that nobody watched and let it go. It was worse for her mother and elder sister. They would wake up before sunrise and in the dark, finish the dirty business and come back home to make sure that people don’t see them with their skirts raised. Soon she too would be a big girl and she too would need to do like the other women in her family. Babli was disappointed at the very idea, but she knew there was no other option for her.
Holding her baba’s hand Babli entered a shack, watched her baba pay the man sitting behind the table a coin. So curious was she that she forgot her need to pee and exclaimed out loud to her baba, “Why are there so many doors in here baba? What is this place?”
“Beta, this is a public toilet. You can go inside and pee without being bothered by anyone else watching you or the insects in the bushes biting you.”
Babli’s face remained expressionless as she could not make head or tail of what was being told. Then her father took her hand and led her into one of those rooms, showed her what a toilet was and explained how to use it.
“So we don’t have to carry bucket and water?”
“No beta, these pipes have water in them all the time.”
“And nobody can see when I pee?”
“No beta, you can close this door and be free of that worry.”
” Arrey wah!”
Her face beaming, she came out after her business was done.
“Baba, whose toilets are these?”
“Beta these are public toilets constructed by the government and can be used by anyone.”
“Why don’t we have a government baba?” her inquisiteveness shone through her eyes.
“Of course we do have a government, my dear.”
“Toh Babli ke liye toilet kidhar hai?”
“We don’t have one yet dear.”
“Socho na baba, if we have toilet like this, mummy and didi wouldn’t need to go out in the dark. It would be so nice for me also. The other day when Gita fell sick, the doctor told her that defecating in the open, that it was because of all the flies that carried the germs into her food. If we have a toilet, then I won’t fall sick baba.“
“But beta, we cannot build toilets in our home. We are poor.”
“Then tell the government baba” her face fell as she was told that they were too poor to have their own toilet.
“Hmm, you are right. Don’t you worry I will tell the sarpanch to do something regarding this. There is a company called Domex, that is helping communities by providing sanitational facilities. We will definitely do something regarding this. I promise you beta.”
There was a smile on her face as her baba said this. She knew he would take care of it. She knew how much her mother hated the fact that her didi had to go out in the open, the neighbourhood boys hooted and whistled at them when they walked into the village market, as if they saw when the girls were defecating. She remembered that her didi had cried that day and thought to herself that no more would that be repeated. Things were going to get better. For Babli, for her didi and for everyone in the village. Her baba would take care of that.
Fifty five percent of India's population (nearly 600 million people) has no access to toilets. A study conducted by World Bank's South Asia Water and Sanitation Unit estimated that India loses Rs 240 billion annually due to lack of proper sanitation facilities. The multilateral body said that premature deaths, treatment for the sick and loss of productivity and revenue from tourism were the main factors behind the significant economic loss. Poor sanitation is something that not only affects the health of the people of the country, but also affects the development of the nation. In fact, women are most affected by the hazards of lack of proper sanitation. For instance, in India majority of the girls drop out of school because of lack of toilets. Only 22% of them manage to even complete class 10. On economic grounds, according to the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, more than Rs 12 billion is spent every year on poor sanitation and its resultant illnesses. - See more here
Domex, HUL’s flagship sanitation brand, currently runs the Domex Toilet Academy (DTA) programme. Domex Toilet Academy was launched on 19th November 2013. It aims to become a sustainable and long-term solution to provide sanitation that benefits the local community and helps stimulate the local economy. The Toilet Academy makes toilets accessible and affordable, while promoting the benefits of clean toilets & good hygiene. Our effort has resulted in bringing the change in the villages of Maharashtra and Orissa and we aim to build 24000 toilets by 2015 in rural areas faced with the problem of open defecation.
You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is click on the Contribute Tab on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs.5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a dignified life.
This post is written for IndiBlogger's #ToiletforBabli campaign