Lonwadi is a small village in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra. This backward village has made great progress, thanks to the patronage of one trust. But the villagers still lack one basic amenity – the toilet! Here’s the story of how one elderly woman set them on the path of good hygiene.
When Amol Sainwar, the founder of Shivprabha Charitable Trust, visited Lonwadi for the first time in 2012, he was disheartened to see a village that was still lacking in basic facilities like electricity, water and roads even 65 years after Independence. His NGO sent an application to the government to provide electricity to the village. However, it soon became apparent that the process would take at least another two years. Not wanting the villagers to suffer in darkness for so long, Amol decided the NGO should distribute solar lamps to each home.
Along with electricity, Shivprabha also took on the challenge of solving the water problem in Lonwadi. The village is located on a hill and the only source of water was a small lake at the bottom of the hill. Every morning, the villagers, and often children, had to walk down a dangerous path to fetch water. This became even more treacherous during the rainy season when the trail became slippery.
A solar water pump to draw water to a tank at the top of the hill was installed in the same year. The villagers were ecstatic.
The next target was to get proper roads for this village. The NGO wrote several letters to the government until it finally received help. Shivprabha helped build the roads in collaboration with the government.
Vehicles can now reach the top of the hill and villagers can easily travel to nearby towns.
A young couple who left their jobs in the UK and joined Shivprabha taught the villagers yoga and meditation. They also provided counselling services and helped Lonwadi become an addiction-free village.
Since most villagers have large families but only small farms, they had to often migrate to cities in search of work for some extra income. Although the irrigation facility provided by Shivprabha helped them do farming year-around (as opposed to only six months during the rainy season every year), there were still many needy farmers in the village. The solution to their problem came in the form of Mahila Gruh Udyog, a small manufacturing unit that Shivprabha set up for the women of Lonwadi.
Today, the women make and sell their own brand of incense sticks and contribute to their family incomes.
While ensuring the village received other facilities, the Shivprabha Charitable Trust also continued working on renovating and improving the village school.
In 2016, the schoolchildren were overjoyed to finally get computers too.
While it may appear that everything that is needed to develop an ideal village has been done already, the story of Anjana Bai reveals there is one more thing that the villagers are in dire need of.
Anjana Bai Malkar was an old woman Amol met when the NGO was distributing solar lamps.
She could walk only with great difficulty and would often complain about the fact that she had to defecate in the jungle since she did not have a toilet at home. Shivprabha had built two toilets in the school but those were meant for the kids only.
The NGO decided to gift a toilet to Anjana Bai and other elderly people in the village. The toilet was built right in front of Anjana Bai’s hut so she could use it any time of the day or night.
Anjana Bai passed away last year after using the toilet for almost one year. But thanks to her, the villagers have also now become aware of the importance of having toilets at home, in order to secure healthy, hygienic and dignified lives for themselves.
This World Toilet Day, The Better India and Shivprabha have come together to raise funds to help Lonwadi become open defecation free within a month. Please lend your support to the residents in their quest to gain access to toilets, sanitation facilities and a healthy future like all of us.
This World Toilet Day, The Better India is supporting Lonwadi, a village in Maharashtra, to become open defecation free in just one month! The residents want to build a toilet in each home and secure a healthy, hygienic and dignified life for themselves. Please lend your support to the residents in their quest and help them get access to toilets, sanitation facilities and a healthy future like all of us.
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