I need not feel shy any more, neither would my daughter or granddaughter,” says 70-year-old widow Gopi, with a huge sigh of relief, standing in front of her mud house in Biravu, a lush green village near Moodbidri in Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka. Although the villagers here are educated, exposed to modernity and consider open toileting uncivilised, poverty stands in their way of constructing toilets in their homes. Government toilet projects do not benefit them as they don’t have clear legal records of their lands though most of them reside here for several years.
In June 2014, the then president of RC Moodbidri, D 3181, Murali Krishna R V conceived the project — ROTALETS — constructing the first bath-cum-toilet at Gopi’s house. Since then, the club has built 70 toilets in the surrounding villages, choosing beneficiaries based on their family size, financial condition, and those not eligible for any of the government schemes.
Open defecation and bathing in makeshift bathrooms exposed women and girls to dangers, including psychotic men on the prowl ready to capture the act on mobile phone cameras, which if caught and circulated, will be a great embarrassment for them,” says Murali Krishna.
ROTALETS is a continuing project and the club plans to complete 100 toilets before they celebrate their golden jubilee next year, and will still continue until every household has one, says the club president Mohammed Sheriff. Each toilet costs Rs 30,000 and the club members provide monetary and material support. The beneficiaries are also involved in the construction process as “it nurtures a feeling of ownership and they will maintain their toilets properly,” he says.