“The dignity of women in rural areas dies twice everyday”, said Malati, a 70-year-old woman, in a village in Atabira area of Sambalpur district of Odisha. Joe Madiath and colleagues had then initiated Gram Vikas’s work building toilets and compost pits for rural households in early 1990s. This was when they met Malati and heard what she had to say. Startled, Joe asked Malati to elaborate. She then added - “We have to go out twice everyday to relieve ourselves near the village pond and then bathe there in open sight before returning home. A little of everyone dies, every time we do this”.
That got Joe and colleagues back to the drawing board. They returned with an experimental project of building toilet and bathroom with piped water supply system for every household. At the beginning it was called Rural Health and Environment Project (RHEP); it was rechristened as Movement and Action Network for Transformation of Rural Areas (MANTRA) in 2004. http://gramvikas.org/mantra-experiences-of-gram-vikas
MANTRA has touched the lives of more than 400,000 individuals living in 1250 villages; it has also earned several recognitions in state, national and international forums. Most recently the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India adjudged MANTRA as a ‘good practice’ in sanitation sector. See entry #2 in the link of SAGY, GoI http://support.saanjhi.in/support/solutions/articles/6000078090-summary-of-national-workshop-on-good-practices-in-rural-development-sector
Recognizing the abysmal condition of sanitation and in concordance with international initiatives in this regard there is today substantial public policy support for building toilets for individual rural households. However, building a toilet does not satisfy Malati’s worries; she would still say that this is a job only half-done or perhaps ‘not done at all’. A woman, like anybody else, still has to go out to bathe in plain sight of everyone! Apart from obvious constraints in adequately cleaning herself, a little bit of her dies every time she does it.
Gram Vikas is committed to realize Malati’s wise counsel to build a bathing/ sower room along with a toilet for every rural household, both served by two separate taps connected to a piped water system. Rural households respond enthusiastically to this; their enthusiasm is, however, constrained by meager resources they have and complete absence of public spending support.
Ways You Can Help
Your contribution helps us redeem the pledge we made to Malati – to build a bathing/ shower room along with a toilet unit. Listed below are a few broad categories of how your contributions could help us in this effort.
- $9 will help a family with a water tap in the shower room
- $24 will help a family with a water tap and a shower facility
- $52 will help provide hygiene education for children in a school for one day
- $149 will help us buy the necessary hardware (steel, cement, door) for the construction of one shower room for a family
- $249 will help us build a complete shower room for a family
We count on your support in accelerating the goal of dignified and healthy living for rural households, especially for women.
A big THANK YOU in advance.