A group led by 15-year-old Pradeep Mewada from Madhya Pradesh’s Raipur Naya Kheda Village is discouraging people from defecating in the open. Their team of ten wakes up early in the morning, hides all the water-filled vessels or bottles from the area where people come to defecate and stops people from doing so.
At 5 am every morning, Pradeep blows a whistle in the village, which acts as a signal for his other teammates to gather. They go in different directions and stop people from defecating in the open.
Pradeep told The Stories of Change that people would get furious at them for their actions. They would even come to their house and threaten and abuse them, but it hasn’t stopped the kids from doing what they believe is right.
Pradeep started his group in 2015 and called it ‘Dabba Dol.’
In the past, he too was one of the people who went out to defecate. So what brought the change in him? It was when he attended a sanitation programme in his village that he understood the problems related to this issue.
“We used to go far to defecate, unfamiliar with the fact that we are bringing back diseases with us to our village. People would fall sick very often. Diarrhea, infections, fever used to be a common occurrence here. I realised it all is connected to our bad habit of open defecation,” he told the publication.
Even though a lot of people initially resisted, they came around after realising the good intentions of these children. Pradeep received immense support from his father and mother. Their house became the first to have a toilet in the village, and thanks to his efforts, their village has become an open defecation free village.
The next issue they solved was of the availability of water. They approaching the government and a borewell was dug. Pradeep and the kids’ mission has spread to the surrounding villages, and many have joined their fight. Buoyed by the results of his efforts, Pradeep has decided to pursue a career in the field of sanitation.