We often take physically challenged people as somehow inferior, though there are unsung heroes around us who defy this myth. These people prove, time and again, that where there is a will, there is a way.
A case in point is Bihar’s 50-year-old visually impaired Musaharu Ram. He lives in the Rajeshwar Poorvi village in Supaul district. This hamlet is 300 km away from the state capital, Patna, with the district headquarters being at least 70 km away.
Musaharu Ram is a hero for the 7,000 inhabitants of this village. A local folk singer, he lost his eyesight due to glaucoma at the age of 22. He supports his three daughters and one son through singing and taking alms.
He says, “When people first came to talk about the toilet, I understood how important it was. Open defecation becomes very problematic during the rains. Our whole hamlet used to submerge.”
He adds, “Life went on like that, but I thought there should be at least a toilet for my daughters, considering their prestige and honour. And so I decided to build a toilet.”
Sarpanch Laxmi, says, “It all started five months ago when toilet construction started in the village under the Swachh Bharat Mission. Almost all villages built toilets. Our challenge was Tamua Tola, where mahadalits lived. Musaharu Ram proved to be a good motivator.”
After the construction of the toilet, Musaharu started to motivate the villagers of the hamlet for the sake of their children. Government officials rewarded him for his advocative work.
“I can’t see, but I feel the honour and respect given to me for this noble cause,” says Musaharu Ram.
Supaul’s Zilla Swachh Bharat motivator Abhishek Mali notes that recent statistics show a marked improvement with one lakh toilets built in the district, with nearly 20,000 toilets built from 1st April to 10th April, 2018. The district earlier stood at the 38th spot in Bihar, but it now stands at the 27th spot.
“There is evidence to suggest that water sanitation and hygiene practices are associated with child growth. Open defecation is also directly linked with stunting and malnutrition in children,” observes Rajeev Kumar, WASH Officer, UNICEF, Bihar.
He further notes that a toilet is not a status symbol but a basic daily requirement. If poor families could build an inexpensive two-pit toilet, then not only would they save themselves and their children from deadly diseases, but also produce manure from faeces which is a good fertiliser.
Visually-challenged Musaharu Ram is an example for the people who wait for government intervention. Proponents of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan also cite his example to other families to motivate them. Supaul’s DM has also felicitated him for his inspiring work.
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Sharing the achievement of the sanitation hero, District Development Commissioner of Supaul, Naveen Chaudhary, concludes, “People like Musaharu Ram are the real face of our sanitation campaign ‘Chikan Chunmum Supaul’. I believe that if he can make toilets, the last person of Supaul too can construct and use toilets.”
(Written by Avinash Ujjwal and Edited by Shruti Singhal)
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