A year ago, the small hamlet named Nandgaon near Karjat in Maharashtra had over 100 houses and not a single toilet. The villagers would defecate in the open areas adjacent to a forest near the village.
Thanks to a 16-year-old girl, Rohini Karale, over 15 families in the village have built toilets in the past one year and more are convinced that they need one.
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According to a report by Firstpost, Rohini has taken up the mission to make her village open defecation free and is working relentlessly towards her goal.
Since her childhood, Rohini saw that no family in her village had a toilet in their house. She, too, was used to the practice as everyone would do the same. However, when Rohini started menstruating, she realised that she couldn’t live in a village that didn’t have toilets.
“As I grew up to be a woman, things changed for me. It was very embarrassing and also petrifying to just relieve myself out in the open. I had to wait for the sun to go down to relieve myself. And the most difficult days were during my menstruation because those days required extra care and hygiene unlike the regular days. But now with a toilet within my house, it has actually made a drastic change not just for me but with this we have been actually advocating the importance of hygiene and sanitation to our fellow villagers,” says Rohini.
She convinced her grandfather, who was the sarpanch of the village not only to build a toilet in their house but also to spread awareness among the villagers about the hazards of open defecation.
“I requested my grandfather to take up the issue in public since he was the Sarpanch at that point of time. Speaking about the issue in a public forum helped others to take cognizance of the problems faced by teenage girls and women in my village,” Rohini told Firstpost.
With the help of the NGO Habitat for Humanity India, the Karale family built a toilet in their house. Now, after a year since the inception of her mission, 15 families in the village have built toilets. More toilets are being constructed in Nandgaon with the help of government schemes and NGOs. Around 30 per cent of the villagers now utilise toilet facilities rather than defecating in the open.
To know more about the NGO Habitat for Humanity India, visit its official website here.