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Couple ‘Trained’ As Sanitation Workers In Purnea

Here is an inspiring story of a distraught couple Amar and Gauri who had been struggling for years to find dignity and respectability working as sanitation workers in Kasba village of Purnea district of Bihar. When UNICEF and FINISH Society joined hands to unveil an initiative to find suitable volunteers who could clean toilets and earn a respectable sum of money, Gauri and Amar inadvertently saw a ray of hope. The idea was to train people who would volunteer to clean toilets in this backward and caste-ridden district of Purnea in Bihar. It may be mentioned that such menial tasks were done by those belonging to the lowest caste and there was no modicum of respect in whatever the sweeper community did. When Gauri came to the FINISH Society office she shared her tale of woe. She narrated how she and her husband Amar earned their daily bread by cleaning toilets at the local level and were not only shunned by the society but also earned such a frugal sum of money that it was difficult for them to fend for their family and make enough money to eat two square meals a day. Moreover, whenever the duo asked for a raise in salary they were insulted and humiliated and told to mind their business since society was doing them a favor by letting them clean the toilets in the first place. They were also rudely reminded of the dirt and filth on their persons which further alienated them from mainstream society. Even their two children who studied in the local government school were often forced to clean the school toilets since they belonged to the sweeper caste.

Distressed at their plight, FINISH staff along with the UNICEF team, decided to provide the husband-wife duo training for deep cleaning of toilets and then provide them with PPE Kits and other safety kits so that they could work in a safe and clean environment. Moreover, the training certificate given to both of them proved to be the gamechanger in their lives. Amar landed a job at the very same petrol pump which had only recently turned him away. The training certificate and the smart kit helped Amar land a full-time job and soon he started earning a decent sum of money. Soon after, he started working in a coaching centre while his wife Gauri got a job to clean the ATM center of a nationalized bank and today earns Rs 10,000 a month. As trained cleaners, they work in the railway station too and today the two together earn a princely sum of Rs 23,000 a month. Both their children now turn up bathed, well-groomed and wear clean clothes and study in a private school where they are treated with dignity and as equals.
This timely intervention by UNICEF and FINISH has brought about a paradigm shift in the lives of these trained sanitation workers and today, they are busy making plans to construct a house in the village. Small steps at the right time can lead to big changes in society.