Bhagiya Chaudhary in fornt of her newly constructed toilet
Bhagiya Chaudhary lives in Ward No. 7, Thapapur village, of Kailali district with her son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and granddaughter. Bhagiya takes care of her grandchildren. Her son and daughter-in-law are away from home for work.
Since 2014, USAID’s Safe WASH II Activity has operated in Thapapur. Under a district level campaign for Open Defecation Free (ODF) areas, the community started constructing individual toilets rapidly. However, Bhagiya was not keen on constructing atoilet, even though she was wellaware of its importance. Convincing her to build and use a toilet at her house took considerable time and efforts. Project staff and community leaders met her several times and tried to convince her to construct a toilet soon. Yet, she made no response nor took any action.
On another front, the ODF campaign geared up and involved local schools. The schools emphasized the need to construct toilets through students who conveyed the messages to their parents. Students who had toilets at home were praised for their sanitation and hygiene practices.
This technique reached Bhagiya’s grandchildren, who shared their learning with their grandmother. She still appeared indifferent to their request. Soon, they insisted that they would not go to school unless they could report that they had a toilet at home. They stopped going to school and threatened that they would not sit for their exams.
During one of the door-to-door visits, project staff visited Bhagiya and explained the benefits of having a toilet at home and the importance of hygiene and sanitation. Feeling the pressure from all sides, she finally changed her mind. Bhagiya constructed a toilet in five days and started using it. Her grandchildren resumed school and also use the toilet regularly.
“I was stubborn. I had decided that I would never build a toilet at home but my grandchildren opened my eyes and made me realize its importance. I have also realized that one needs determination first to build a toilet,” Bhagiya says. “Better late than never! Having a toilet at home has made our life easier and healthy.”