Ramesh Mangla Andher lives in Sayli village, Silvassa, Gujarat. He works as a panchayat clerk and contributes to the household with his two brothers. All the brothers live together in one house with their respective families and their mother, Harku Mangla Andher.
A joint family with 16 members, their home never had a toilet till recently. Today, with the support from Habitat for Humanity India, the family has their own toilet in their home. Ramesh had a huge role to play in making this possible.
The family has fields behind their house where they cultivate rice. Previously, each member of the house would use the fields to relieve themselves. Sometimes, they would use the toilet near his house that belonged to a shopkeeper. The shopkeeper would charge ₹5 per person, for using the toilet facility. On other days, they would use the nearby river to defecate. Ramesh and his family would drink less water to avoid frequent urination, which severely hampered their health.
Ramesh remembers, “It was very difficult, particularly during the rains. The wet mud would make it difficult for us to even walk – defecating in such a situation was even worse. At night, there was also the fear of snakes – we had to carry torches to go out in the fields just to relieve ourselves.”
Ramesh slso played a significant part in helping other families in his village to build toilets in their homes. He accompanied the Habitat team to visit most of the families that didn’t have toilets. There were some major problems that the community faced because of the lack of a toilet.
Ramesh explains, “The women in the village had a tough time when they would use the fields for their bodily needs. They had no choice but to go into the fields early in the morning so that nobody would see them. However, young boys would take advantage and try to click their photos. There have been many instances where I had to fight the boys off by myself by throwing stones at them.” With new toilets in their homes, women in the village no longer live in fear of being eve-teased or embarrassed.
Over 150 toilets have been built in Sayali village by Habitat India, including one in an anganwadi. A key feature of these toilets is that they have all been set up through prefab construction. This modern method of construction hasn’t hampered the durability or stability of the sanitation facilities. Ramesh says, “We have had no water problems or any other glitches. I am glad that my daughters now won’t have to go out in the fields to defecate. This toilet has come as God’s blessing and is no less than a temple for us.”
Join Habitat for Humanity India in its sanitation movement so that we can achieve an open defecation free India. Donate now at www.habitatindia.in.