Saturday, 23 February 2013

Day 6 21st Feb -Erica

We set off from the hotel and drove through Bhopal, past the largest lake in asia (so we were told) and out of the city to the rural village of Amrod. As we got off the coach the smell of sweet insense drifted towards us. We had a lovely welcome in the communal meeting area for the village. We were given gifts of coconuts which are symbols of warmth and love. In Amrod the government were providing the hardware to build toilets but WaterAid and its partners worked with the village for three months to educate them about the need for toilets in the first place. They then helped get a committee together which applied to the government for support under the total sanitation scheme. They also have an aspriational 5 year plan for the village. The final push for the village to become open defication free was from a man in the village who heard of a woman in a nearby village being attacked whilst going to the loo outside. This was the final motivation for him to start building a toilet so he could keep his family safe. After 2 months of building 75 our of 84 households now have toilets.
I spent some time with a family and helped them to build their latrine. It was amazing! I mixed cement and laid some bricks! Prabhu lala and his family used to think there waa not enough space for a toilet, maybe it would be too expensive for them and that an indoor toilet waa unhygienice. Since WaterAid started their work all of these myths have been put to rest and the family are now thrilled to be building their own family toilet. The family was happy they were getting a toilet as it would save them time, which they could use to work. And it would mean safety and dignity for the women.
The family were so welcoming and kind. They really let us slip into family routine. They were proud of what they were doing together as a family. We even got asked to stay for a night! Their kindness and generosity, the fact they were willing to share what little they had with us, their smiles and they way they accommidated us really touched my heart and as i shared photos of my family with Soram bai, the mother, i got a bit choked up! It was such a wonderful morning.
In the afternoon we visited a secondary school in a village called Padli. In this school WaterAid had worked with the children to help them understand the need for toilets. Previously the villagers had used the school playground as the open defication zone which ment the children could not use the space, and even some of the classrooms because the smell was so bad. Once the children understood the need for sanitation.and hygiene they started telling their parents, asking them to build toilets. They also got up early for school and played games outside so people wouldnt go to the toilet there. They had whistles and would blow them is they saw anyone openly deficating. The children said they used to get told off and people would complain to their parents. But they continued to do it knowing it was the right thing to do. 3 monthd later the village, is open defication free and the children are thrilled! They are so proud. as they showed us round their school they were telling us of their aspirations to be teachers so they could teach the whole'm of India to read. We played games in the play ground which had previously been unusable. All the children were so happy and healthy. As they said their evening prayer things settled down and we left the village.
Today was an inspiring day for me. The impact of WaterAid's work was so obvious. simple things that we dont think about like safety and dignity when going to the toilet, having safe water to drink that is available all year round. These are things people in India dont have, and dont know they deserve. WaterAid empowers them and gives them the cofidence to ask for the things they need.

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