Ask Vidya’s husband how he feels about owning a toilet and he says, “Madam yeh sab toh ladies log ka mamla hai… you please talk to my wife.” But Vidya seems quite happy that she will not have to “drink less water or eat less, and most importantly, wait for the dark to relieve ourselves. Thank you, Rotary,” she says.
For Vidya and other women of Indri, a village in Haryana about 65 kms from Delhi, owning a toilet is more prestigious than owning a television. “Ab kheton mein lota utha kar nahi jana padega (We no longer have to go to the fields),” says another beneficiary of the Rotary toilet.
RC Delhi Midwest, D 3011, in association with Sulabh Sanitation Mission Foundation, RC Denver, D 5450, USA, and TRF have built 20 toilets in Indri. Ashok Jain, the Global Grant Project Coordinator, explains that the MoU with Sulabh includes educating the villagers and creating awareness on personal hygiene. This is done periodically with lectures and demonstrations at the village community centre and school.
We did not have enough money to build a toilet. And we always thought toilet ki kya zarurat hai (why do we need a toilet)?
— Lalita, a beneficiary
Personal hygiene awareness is very much needed, he says, because “it has become a habit for the villagers to defecate in the open and unfortunately some are comfortable doing that.” Lalita, another beneficiary, says, “We were so used to going to the fields.” But her 12-year-old son insisted on having a toilet built at home because “there is one in his school. We did not have enough money to build a toilet. and always thought toilet ki kya zaroorat hai (why do we need a toilet)?”
Nothing happens overnight, neither creating awareness, nor building a toilet, says Jain. In 2015–16, when he was the club president, he wanted to build the toilets and to his luck Rtn Ved Nanda, member of RC Denver, was invited as guest speaker at one of the club meetings. “He suggested that we plan a global grant project in collaboration with his club.” With help from Rotarians William Korstad and Nanda, the global grant came through.
A partnership with Sulabh was established and after an extensive survey “we decided on Indri, as this village had a low average income, compared to its neighbouring villages.” Under this grant it was decided to build toilets in 65 households, of which 20 toilets have been completed and handed over to the people in July in the presence of DRFC Sushil Khurana.
Jain recalls how he found that one of the toilets was being used as a dustbin. “It was disappointing. Then we talked to the villagers and told them sternly not to do that.” The club members keep visiting the village to monitor the toilet usage, and will do so till toilet usage becomes a habit.