The vibrant village of Morena welcomed us as old friends, even when we arrived 3 hours late to their village - but boy were we glad we made it.
I cannot possibly express what a difference the intervention of WaterAid has made here and what a contrast this village is to the first one we visited.
The first thing that strikes me is the community spirit clearly visible and the pride these people have in their village and their achievements.
So, WaterAid started working here in 2004 when there was little knowledge in the village about the link between clean water, sanitation and ill health. And as the President of the Womens Group later attested to - the villagers thought that WaterAid were crazy, and in fact that she had also gone crazy for listening to them!
But as we listened to the senior members from a number of committees talk to us about their 8 year journey with water it became clear that now the whole of the community are bought in and understand the importance. As a colleague of mine on the trip commented, there will now be a whole generation of children being born who will not know the old practices, and in this way expectations are raised.
WaterAid actually withdrew from this village in 2008 as per the plan, and the village themselves are now driving the continuous improvement through the committees set up by WaterAid and their partners. The village have been recognised by WaterAid India by winning the Open Defecation Free Award in 2012 and earning themselves 50,000 rupees for their hard work which is now being reinvested in operation and maintenance of the now established system.
The village was also the only one not to have a single case of Chickun Guynai (fever, rashes, headaches, aching joints) during a recent outbreak and this is solely due to their rigorous approach to water and sanitation.
So if you have any doubt that WaterAid makes a difference, trust me - it does. This community was empowered, educated and most importantly of all healthy - all due to the work of WaterAid. That cannot be overestimated. And those of you out there that have organised, walked, climbed, driven etc for WaterAid in the past should be very proud of yourselves. You have done a very good thing.
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