‘Sab mil ke haath batawa, swachhta ka chala hai abhiyan, aao sab milke jharoo lagawa (Every single person should join hands for swachh initiative and should pick up brooms for making India clean), humming this song, 18-year-old Santosh Shahani, who is blind and cannot see the world, makes an effort to pass on the Swachh message by cleaning up one dirty area of his locality and near-by areas in Patna. However, Santosh is not alone in his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, he is joined by Rakesh Kumar, a 33-year-old polio victim who cannot walk. Both of them are the members of Sulabh National Association for the blind in Patna, along with their fellow members they plan to take their swachhta efforts to new heights.
In 2015, when I travelled to New Delhi with my organisation Sulabh, that time they were celebrating World Toilet Day, I saw many people on that occasion were building toilets. I found it very weird to know that there is one dedicated day for building toilets. When I asked, I was amazed to know that one toilet can solve so many problems – it can fight diseases, save people lives, make the area clean. From that day, I saw my interest grow towards swachhta, says Santosh Shahani, who is currently studying in grade 12 and pursuing computer studies.
Today, these visually impaired children are like Swachh massiah who are spreading an important message of Clean India in every dirty pocket of Patna and leaving a Swachh mark so as everyone can pick up a broom and start taking an action against dirt.
A lot of us tend to blame the government for unclean spots, but, our question is why we should wait for the government to take an action. Don’t we clean up our homes? If we can keep our houses clean then keeping the society clean is also a necessity. At some point we citizens are also responsible, added the changemakers.
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So, What Exactly These Swachh Warriors Are Doing?
First, they meet every Sunday, and then decide what area or pocket they would like to clean, together, they shortlist a housing society or spot which is not clean and aim to do spot fixings by washing roads and cleaning the streets. Their aim is to do clean up every 2 weeks and fix a spot.
Picking up brooms and cleaning up areas is one thing, another thing is leaving a strong message behind. We want to include and motivate people in joining the swachh cause. Our funda is simple, ‘swachh ho tan, swachh ho man, swachh ho desh apna, yeh hai Shri Modi, Sulabh and Gandhi ka sapna,’ (Clean body, clean heart, clean country, this is the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sulabh and Mahatma Gandhi),” added Santosh.
This swachh warrior team is also reaching out to locals in order to educate them on why they need to take Swachh Bharat Abhiyan seriously.
These champions don’t need any funds for this cleanliness drive, all they want is support of each and every citizen, said Lily Gupta, a Social Activist, who is teaching fine arts at Sulabh National Association.
Patna’s Swachh Report
Patna was ranked 262 in the recent Swachh Survekshan 2017. The below par performance was mainly because of the dismal scenario of cleanliness in the city.
One thing we know is that Cleanliness can solve anything. That’s why we want to make our city clean and swachh. Many a times we have seen people stopping us from doing the clean ups but the need of the hour is to join hands with us and adopt cleanliness as a Swachh India mantra, signs off the swachh warriors – Santosh and Rakesh.
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