Reacting to the neatly done up toilet block facility, where every minute detail has been taken care of, at the Avvai Home Orphanage School in Chennai, TRF Trustee and WinS Global Chair Sushil Gupta says, “I’m very impressed. It’s not a three-star but a six-star toilet,” as he enters the building. Here there are 19 toilets with modern facilities including one special toilet with railings on the side, enabling access for wheelchairs for physically challenged students. A group hand wash station has also been set up inside the building with 16 Jaguar taps. No expense has been spared on excellent, high-quality, state-of-the-art equipment.
Apart from the toilets, there is an exclusive room, with an incinerator and a vending machine, for hygienic disposal of sanitary napkins. This provides relief to the teenaged girls who dread coming to school during their monthly menstrual cycle, due to lack of proper facilities and privacy. The toilets will benefit nearly 760 students, maintaining a 1:40 student-toilet ratio in accordance with UNICEF requirements.
A three-star model, according to UNICEF norms, fulfils criteria such as providing clean water for drinking as well as for the bathrooms, gender-specific toilet facilities for boys and girls, facilities for hygienic menstrual management, group-hand washing facilities and WinS awareness. Depending on the fulfilment of the list, the toilets are classified as one-star, two-star or three-star, explains Arun Dobhal, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist, UNICEF.
Gupta praised the project and encouraged group hand washing sessions at the school, with songs/rhymes such as “Hum haath saaf karenge,” (we will wash our hands), making it a fun activity for the children. “This will bring about a behavioural change among students. They are the agents/catalysts of change,” he said. Educating children on hygiene will trigger a snowball effect, as they in turn will carry the message to their homes/families and the parents will also change, bringing about societal change. “The change in attendance patterns must be measured before and after setting up improved sanitation facilities to ascertain actual benefit from the project,” he added.
Rtn PHF Ganeshan Suppiah, President, RC Madras Coromandel, D 3230, said his club has Interact clubs in two schools including the Avvai Home School. As a result of their long-standing association with Avvai Home, they decided to set up a toilet block there. The project was started in May 2015, when the Interactors studying at the school put forward a request. It was decided to set up a toilet block, under a Matching Grant of $53,000, along with their International partner, RC Colombo Fort, District 3220.
The Avvai Home Orphanage and associated Schools is a non-profit organisation established in 1930 by late Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy to educate orphaned girls and deserted women irrespective of caste, creed or social status. Most of the students are poor. “I was looking for sponsorship to construct a toilet block and this project came up. It was like a god-send for me,” said V Susheela, Honorary Secretary and Correspondent of the Institute, which has 185 girls. She requested the Rotarians to set up another toilet block in the primary school campus as well.
The District Rotarians, under the leadership of DG C R Raju, have embarked on the WinS project in an ambitious way. The goal is to construct over 600 toilets, with one-star, two-star and three-star facilities, in partnership with UNICEF. “The toilet block at this school will serve as a benchmark for other toilets,” said Raju.
PRID and India National WinS Chair P T Prabhakar, WinS Zone Coordinator PDG ISAK Nazar, PDG Krishnan V Chari, PDG Benjamin Cherian, PDG G Olivannan, Rtn Mohan Raghavan, Director — Project Sangamitra and other Rotarians participated.
Pictures by K Vishwanathan