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Swachh Warrior: 16-Year-Old Tamil Nadu Girl, The Sole Breadwinner Of Her Family, Helps Build Toilets In Her Village

Jayalakshmi, a 16-year-old girl who studies in Class 12 and sells cashews to support her family, has motivated fellow villagers to give up open defecation and has managed to bring toilets to each household of her village in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu

Swachh Warrior: 16-Year-Old Tamil Nadu Girl, The Sole Breadwinner Of Her Family, Helps Build Toilets In Her Village
Highlights
  • Jayalakshmi has been chosen for an educational tour to NASA
  • NGO Gramalaya reached out to Jayalakshmi to offer aid for travel to NASA
  • Jayalakshmi requested Gramalaya to help her build toilets in her village

New Delhi: At a young age of 16 years, Jayalakshmi wears many hats. She is a student of Class 12, sole bread-earner of her family, a tuition teacher for Class 8 and 9 students and a social worker. The resident of Thiruvalluvar Nagar village of Adhanakottai panchayat in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu, Jayalakshmi has helped in eradicating the practice of open defecation from her village by raising awareness and motivating her fellow villagers to build individual household toilets. Taking support from a Tiruchirapalli based voluntary organisation ‘Gramalaya’ that has been working towards sanitation and rural development since 1987, Jayalakshmi has managed to build 125 individual household toilets covering all families in her village.

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It all started when Jayalakshmi won an online competition conducted by a private organisation and got an opportunity to visit NASA (National Aeronautics And Space Administration) facility in the USA. She started receiving support from various people and organisations who offered to fund her visit to NASA. Gramalaya was one of the organisations that came forwards to help her realise her dream of visiting NASA. However, Jayalakshi requested S. Damodaran, Founder of Gramalaya to channelise the support offered towards building individual household toilets in her village. While speaking to NDTV, Jayalakshmi, whose trip to NASA has been postponed to the next year due to the pandemic, said,

For years, people in my village including myself and my family had to walk about two kilometres towards a forest for defecation. Of a total of 130 families in our hamlet, 125 did not have toilets. Girls and women especially faced many problems as we had to walk past a wine shop each time, we had to relieve ourselves in the open. Boys and men loiter around the wine shop all the time which used to make us very uncomfortable because of which many of us used to control ourselves to avoid going in the open. This used to cause stomach ache and headaches also.

Jayalakshmi added that she was already aware about Gramalaya and their hygiene programmes and so she took the opportunity to request the NGO to help construct toilets. She said that initially the villagers were hesitant and so she had to go door-to-door to talk to them and explain to them the benefit of using a toilet. Appreciating the efforts of Jayalakshmi, Mr. Damodaran said,

We got to know from the media that a poor girl was facing financial crunch to visit the USA. So, we approached her. She requested us to visit the village and lend our experience and funds in building toilets. When we reached her village, we found the village to be extremely backward with individual toilets in five households out of a total of 130 households. As Jayalakshmi told us that she has already got adequate funds for the NASA visit, we started the project of providing villagers with one good 4feetX8feet toilet per household.

Also Read: State-Run Outlets ‘Amma Canteens’ Resume Providing Free Food During The 12-Day COVID-19 Lockdown In 4 Tamil Nadu Districts

Mr. Damodaran further said that some households had built toilet under the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) but a lot of those were not functional or have been damaged by the cyclone.

According to Mr. Damodaran, the households have contributed about Rs. 5,000 worth of material and labour for each toilet and the rest of the fund has been aided by the NGO in association with Bank of America.

The people of Jayalakshmi’s village recognise her contribution in providing them with toilets. Deivanai, a 40-year-old women said that the toilets built by Gramalaya also has enough space for bathing. She said that the community is very happy and thankful to the young social worker. She said,

We are a five-member family including my three teenagers who are using this toilet. I am glad that now we don’t have to go to the forest area for defecation. We will maintain and use our household toilet.

Another resident Chinnathal, a 47-year-old woman thanked Jayalakshmi for her efforts and the NGO for their support. She highlighted that toilets are a basic need of the people and this simple thing alone can prove to be transformative in the future in terms of health and hygiene of the people in the village.

Jayalakshmi lives with her mother who is undergoing treatment for mental illness and her 13-year-old brother. The family of three receives some support from her uncle. Jayalakshmi who aspires to become a civil servant, currently does odd jobs, mostly engaged in processing and selling cashew. While signing off she said,

My father had abandoned us when I was little. My mother is suffering from a mental illness. In this struggle, I find inspiration in my teachers. They encourage me to keep going and strive for a better future. They also helped me get a passport. I want to study Law and join civil service in future. I want to change the situation of my village and many other villages like mine.

Also Read: Replacing Single-Use Plastic, One Leaf At A Time: This 20-Year-Old’s Invention Can Help Tackle The Rising Plastic Waste Crisis

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

23,23,25,643Cases
19,46,11,603Active
3,29,58,002Recovered
47,56,038Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 23,23,25,643 and 47,56,038 have died; 19,46,11,603 are active cases and 3,29,58,002 have recovered as on September 28, 2021 at 3:48 am.

India

3,36,97,581 18,795Cases
2,92,2067,414Active
3,29,58,002 26,030Recovered
4,47,373 179Deaths
In India, there are 3,36,97,581 confirmed cases including 4,47,373 deaths. The number of active cases is 2,92,206 and 3,29,58,002 have recovered as on September 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,44,325

41,396 32

63,64,027

1,38,902 32

Kerala

46,41,587 11,699

1,57,733 6,122

44,59,193 17,763

24,661 58

Karnataka

29,73,899 504

12,833 409

29,23,320 893

37,746 20

Tamil Nadu

26,58,923 1,657

17,261 24

26,06,153 1,662

35,509 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,47,459 618

12,482 566

20,20,835 1,178

14,142 6

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,778 6

176 0

16,86,712 6

22,890

West Bengal

15,66,865 472

7,584 99

15,40,530 556

18,751 15

Delhi

14,38,746 32

366 5

14,13,295 37

25,085

Odisha

10,24,764 444

5,102 214

10,11,482 653

8,180 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,269 27

282 3

9,91,423 30

13,564

Rajasthan

9,54,316 13

86 9

9,45,276 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,872 21

142 9

8,15,648 30

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,504 8

118 2

7,81,868 6

10,518

Haryana

7,70,825 7

329 6

7,60,686 13

9,810

Bihar

7,25,947 3

57 11

7,16,230 14

9,660

Telangana

6,65,284 216

4,585 27

6,56,785 241

3,914 2

Punjab

6,01,538 38

284 2

5,84,747 35

16,507 1

Assam

6,01,031 412

4,587 42

5,90,593 362

5,851 8

Jharkhand

3,48,198 4

79 1

3,42,986 5

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,504 14

218 8

3,35,893 22

7,393

Jammu And Kashmir

3,29,125 117

1,513 1

3,23,190 118

4,422

Himachal Pradesh

2,18,523 209

1,730 16

2,13,124 225

3,669

Goa

1,76,145 50

862 56

1,71,980 106

3,303

Puducherry

1,26,127 37

866 35

1,23,423 72

1,838

Manipur

1,20,000 116

2,111 14

1,16,042 129

1,847 1

Mizoram

90,539 1,846

15,843 358

74,394 1,481

302 7

Tripura

84,085 19

275 3

82,999 22

811

Meghalaya

80,897 108

1,752 125

77,750 230

1,395 3

Chandigarh

65,217 7

44 3

64,354 4

819

Arunachal Pradesh

54,395 43

319 4

53,802 47

274

Sikkim

31,291 25

601 11

30,303 35

387 1

Nagaland

31,167 17

426 19

30,078 35

663 1

Ladakh

20,786 5

148 8

20,431 13

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

0 0

10,666

4

Lakshadweep

10,361

5 0

10,305

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,619 1

11 2

7,479 3

129

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. sivakumar subbiah

    November 18, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    Fascinating example set by Jayalakshmi, kudos to her

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