Plus Two girl helps build toilets in her village

Beneficiaries in front of a household toilet built at Thiruvalluvar Nagar in Adhanakottai in Pudukottai district.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Plus Two student, hailing from a poor family, of Adhanakottai in Pudukottai district, has helped motivate her fellow villagers to build individual household toilets, taking advantage of a project implemented by a Tiruchi-based voluntary organisation.

The 16-year-old girl, Jayalakshmi, managed to get the project implemented in the district after help poured in from various quarters following her selection for a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in the USA through a contest conducted by a private organisation. Though her visit has been postponed to next year due to the pandemic, she managed to channelise the support offered by G. Damodaran, Founder, Gramalaya, the voluntary organisation, which sought to reach out to her after media reports about her selection.

“We wanted to help her on hearing that the poor girl was facing a fund crunch to visit the USA. But when we reached her, we found the village to be backward and decided to select it for building toilets under our project as she told us that she has already got adequate funds [for the NASA visit]. I informed the villagers that they will get toilets through ‘NASA’ Jayalakshmi,” recalled Mr. Damodaran.

“I had heard about Gramalaya and their hygiene programmes. Most of the houses in our hamlet did not have toilets; we too did not have one. We girls and women faced much problem as we have to relieve ourselves in the open. So, I requested Damodaran sir to build toilets in the village. Though there was some initial hesitation among some of our villagers in starting construction of toilets, I went door to door to talk to them and explained the benefits,” said Ms .Jayalakhsmi, who studies at Raniar Government Girls Higher Secondary School in Pudukottai.

Living with her mother who is undergoing treatment for mental illness, the girl and her brother are supported by her uncle.

Ms. Jayalakshmi also supplements the family income by doing odd jobs, mostly at cottage units engaged in processing cashew, and aspires to become a civil servant.

Today, as many as 120 household toilets have been built in Thiruvalluvar Nagar in Adhanakottai panchayat with the involvement of beneficiaries. The beneficiaries had to contribute ₹5,000 worth of materials and labour for the toilets, which cost ₹25,000 on an average. The project was executed by Gramalaya with funding from Bank of America. The bank, under its corporate social responsibility initiative, was funding the project to the extent of ₹2.50 crore for the construction of about 750 individual toilets at select villages across Pudukottai district. Of this, ₹1.50 crore is to be spent for building the toilets and the rest on other components such as hygiene education.

R.Kannan, Jayalakshmi’s uncle and Adhanakottai village panchayat president, said many residents of the village did not utilise the government scheme to build household toilets. People were now happy with the construction of toilets under the initiative of Gramalaya as they had bathrooms attached.

Gramalaya, in association with Bank of America, selected Pudukottai district in Tamil Nadu for implementing the comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All (WASH), menstrual hygiene management and nutrition programme to be implemented during 2020 -2021. Smart household toilets are being constructed in villages with households less than 10% toilet coverage. Hygiene education coupled with menstrual hygiene management and nutrition awareness education will be provided in the villages through the capacity building and training programmes.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 6:58:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/plus-two-girl-helps-build-toilets-in-her-village/article32671849.ece

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