"I wish there was a toilet in my house too. I am 16 years old now and I feel shy about going to the jungle."
A young girl from Lonwadi village recalls how her village has developed in the past four years but one important thing is still missing.
Rukmina is a 16-year-old girl from the village Lonwadi in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra. Lonwadi was one of the most underdeveloped villages of Maharashtra until four years ago, when Shivprabha Charitable Trust adopted it.
Rukmina spoke to The Better India about how her village has been transformed into a self sustainable village in the past four years but how there is still one important thing that is missing.
“Namaskar! My name is Rukmina Vilas Bhuse. I stay in the village of Lonwadi with my parents, grandparents and six siblings. My oldest sister used to also live with us but since she is married now there are just 11 at home. Both my parents work on our farm and we help them too. We don’t take our youngest brother to the farm but the rest of us have to help them earn a livelihood so they can feed us.
Despite all the hardship, I am proud of the fact that all of us go to school.
One of my older sisters has appeared for Class 12 and wishes to study further. I am the third oldest one and am in Class 10. My other two sisters are in Class 8 and Class 6. The village school is up to Class 5 only so the three of us go to Khadakdari, 7 km away from our village to study. The rest of my siblings study here in the Lonwadi school.
This school has changed drastically in the past four years. My sisters say they can operate a computer now and they do many extra-curricular activities too.
Much has changed in our village too in recent years. I remember, as a kid, we used to get water from a small lake down the hill. But now there is this pump that does the work and all we have to do is fill water from the taps. There’s electricity too, which makes life so much easier. The irrigation facility provided by the NGO has been a blessing; now my parents don’t have to sit idle for the six months it does not rain, nor do they have to migrate from the village to find work. My mother also contributes by working in the Gruh Udyog (handicraft unit) started by them.
Thank God some roads were built before we started going to the Khadakdari School, otherwise we would have to walk all the way. Now, a tempo comes to pick up and drop us from school.
The only thing that I miss in my village is a toilet. The NGO that helped us get all the other facilities has also built two toilets in the school and a common toilet in the village.
But that’s not enough. I wish there was a toilet in my house too. I am 16 years old now and I feel shy about going to the jungle. But there is no other option. There are snakes, scorpions and other dangerous insects around the place where we go. It’s scary, especially in the rainy season. Moreover, we have to sit somewhere between the bushes to hide ourselves.
My brother is too young to go alone to the jungle so one of us has to accompany him every time. And it’s difficult for him too. He often comes back crying because he gets pricked by thorns or is bitten by ants.
My father tells us every year that he will build a toilet at home. But we know his financial condition. How can he?
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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