Six-year-old Dharani, a resident of Kurumbapatti in the Athoor block’s Ambathurai, grew up watching her father drown himself in alcohol, come home inebriated and fight with her mother R. Karthika, almost every day.
Until the little girl decided to put an end to it.
Not only was she hurt by the pain the daily verbal arguments inflicted on her mother, but also the embarrassment her mother felt while having to defecate in the open since their home had no toilet.
What took Karthika over five years to explain to her husband, took only a few sharp words from the little girl.
Representational Image only. Source: MaxpixelDharani walked up to he father and threatened him that she would leave home with her mother and move away to her grandparents’ home in Vadamadurai, leaving him alone if he didn’t stop drinking.
She spoke to him openly about the shame her mother felt every day from having to defecate in the open and convinced him to build a toilet.
“My husband had no option but to give in. Now, we have a toilet,” Karthika told The Hindu.
It wasn’t long until Rajapandi, her father, quit drinking too and went to Kerala to earn a living.
“My teacher has been advising me often about the importance of personal hygiene and clean surroundings to lead a healthy life. She also insisted that I should use toilets and avoid defecation in open places. Her advice motivated me to convince my dad to construct a toilet for us. Now, I ask my mother to use the toilet,” said Dharani in an interview with The Hindu.
Gandhigram Trust lauded the girl’s determination to fight against open defecation and felicitated her with a shawl and memento making her a local hero!
Six-year-old Dharani’s story proves age is just a number. You can never be too old or young to begin your journey as a changemaker. And change truly starts at home!