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The first time I visited my native place in Kerala, I was eight years old. I was only there for a short vacation with my parents. Having being born and brought up in Bangalore, the concrete city, the simple life and the natural ambiance of Kerala was a welcome surprise to me. There was lush green forests and farms all around. The place we stayed was a huge house right in the middle of three acres of farm. It was a sight to behold, but only for a while. When I woke up the next morning, I saw the female folk and children of the house walking in a hurry with a small plastic bucket in their hands. When I asked them what were they up to, they told me that this is how they begin their morning routine. The huge farm house did not house a toilet and hence people urinated and defecated in the open, right alongside the place where they grew their own vegetables and fruits! The word shocking would be an understatement here. Twenty years have passed since then and sadly nothing much has changed. And I see that this is not only in the villages of Kerala but this happens in almost every village in India.
Today in India more than two lakh children die from diarrhoea and India has the highest number of under five deaths globally. Today six hundred and twenty six million men defecate in the open, putting at risk the next generation and themselves. Forget the men, even a woman has her dignity compromised by not having toilets to use. They are forced to urinate and defecate in the open, which puts their hygiene and health at a big risk. Some people think that building toilets is a waste of money as they have the entire open space of the world to cater to their excretory needs. Till date, there are people, both men and women rushing to a nearby river for defection and to take a shower. In the same water of course. If this does not cause diseases then what does? This same water is then used for cooking and drinking, causing dangerous epidemic diseases like cholera and diarrhoea. Two lakh children dying in a year is a a very bad statistic. And that too why? Due to lack of toilets. This is the lamest of reasons and one that everyone of us should be ashamed off.
A lady is expected to be covered from head to toe in our country in order to prevent crimes like rape. But when the same lady is expected to shed her self respect and defecate in the open, no one calls that a crime. I remember watching an ad on TV where children from a rural school were asked to wish for anything they wanted and a local NGO granted it for them. Most of the girls there had only one thing to ask. Toilets for them. A man urinating in public is ignored and hence he does not feel the need for a toilet at his house. But what about his wife? Is she expected to sit out and defecate in the open too? While on a train journey to Shirdi last year, I saw a line of women from children to grannies sitting alongside the railway tracks to finish their morning routine. The sight was depressing to say the least. The smoke from the train enveloped them completely and so did the dust and mud they were sitting upon. Some women actually walked away without washing their hands or themselves. Aren't they aware of the basics of hygiene? It is a sad thought.
This must change. People need to be educated about such basic things and the cons of their doings. Just imagine a woman defecating in the open while she is on her period. This thought makes me shudder. Or what about a woman who is pregnant and is asked to go through such humiliation just in order to attend nature's call? Isn't hygiene a basic human right? It is sad that the concept of open defecation has not been addressed until now. We need to do something about it and the first think to do is talk. Talk to people around and educate them on the importance of hygiene. We are not asking them to use sanitizers and tissues, just asking them to fight for their right to use bathrooms and toilets. Some years ago the Indian government built toilets in various cities. They were called as 'Sulabh' in Bangalore. They were pay and use toilets for both men and women. But a few months later they looked like a garbage dump with unbearable stench. When the government is taking measures to improve sanitation, people need to adhere to it and keep it clean. It is not only about building toilets for people, it is also about taking care of it by regular washing and cleaning.
Domex has taken a stand and decided to do something about it, by starting 'The Domex Toilet Academy'. This was launched on November 19th, 2013 and has resulted in bringing a change to the villages of Maharashta and Orissa. They make affordable and accessible toilets and let people know about the importance of clean toilets and good hygiene. They are doing a brilliant job so far and aim to build around 24,000 toilets by the end of 2015 so that every person is given their basic right of hygiene. Let us join hands with them and help make our country free from open defecation and the diseases associated with it. #ToiletForBabli is Indiblogger's way of contributing to the Domex initiative. I have made a contribution already and so can you.
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.