How a toilet became a source of self-respect in Sitamarhi, Bihar
Unlike other rural family, the livelihood of this family also depends on little cultivable land in the village, through which the family earns its living by doing farming activities. The name of the male breadwinner is Chander Majhi and Banarasi Majhi. Both are elderly , where Chander is about 62 years and Banarasi Devi’s is about 55. He has four sons, all married. After marriage all four live separately therefore this couple is now living a lonely life.
To sustain the impact of Swachh Bharat Mission, Government of Bihar, In collaboration with UNICEF, a project is being run to maintain the status of open defecation free status in the district. Under the initiative dysfunctional and damaged toilets are identified and collective repair/retrofitting plan is prepared with the help of the community to make them functional again. Under this activity intense Inter Personal Communication (IPC) and screening drive was carried out in the village during the survey of the Gram Panchayat. During the drive, it was found that their toilet was lying incomplete. The toilet room and a terrace was found constructed while the rest of the IHHL components was found missing. The toilet proper was found without chamber and pit , nor with a door or a pan. During further investigation, it became clear that they are not being able to meet their daily needs so retrofitting the toilets was a herculean task It may be recalled that five years back during the SBM campaign, Mukhiya and other person persuaded him to build a toilet. He started the construction by taking a loan from a person in the Gram Panchayat, but could not complete it due to want of funds. Since then, it has remained incomplete. Seeing this, the FINISH Society representative explained to Chander Majhi through some trigger tools as to how important it was to have a toilet in the house. Chander expressed his helplessness since he did not have the required money to complete building his toilet. Two months passed by, without much progress. One day the FINISH Society representative met the Mukhiya of the Gram Panchayat Mr Naresh Prasad and discussed Chander Majhi’s case. The Mukhiya took note and supported this elderly couple by providing material and mason to complete the IHHL construction. Chander Majhi duly completed his toilet construction. The facilitating team organized a retrofitting camp and distributed seto pans by involving the Mukhiya of gram panchayat. Chander Majhi was also given a seto pan free of cost during this drive. Chander arranged some material of his own accord and installed a seto pan in the toilet. However, the pit part was still incomplete, and in the ongoing drive and simultaneous repair and retrofitting being carried out in other similar dysfunctional toilets, he too decided to repair his own toilet. Chander felt that both he and his wife have become old and both of them find it difficult to defecate in the open during rainy and cold days. Therefore, Chander sold one quintal of paddy from his field and got his unfinished toilet completed with that amount. Now both Chander and his wife are very happy to get a new lease of life which ensures pride and self-respect.
“ गाँव के सभी लोगों के पास अपना शौचालय है , हमारे पास जो था वो भी अधुरा और इतने पैसे भी नहीं थे की पूरा करा सकें , बूढ़े हैं और धन का अभाव भी है , कैसे करते अधूरे शौचालय का निर्माण इसी लिए खुले में शौच मजबूर थे “