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

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
News, Swachh Warriors, Tamil Nadu
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Swachh Warrior: 16-Year-Old Tamil Nadu Girl, The Sole Breadwinner Of Her Family, Helps Build Toilets In Her Village16-year-old Jayalakshmi was supported by a Tiruchirapalli based voluntary organization, in building individual household toilets for each family of her village in Tamil Nadu in order to prevent open defecation
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.

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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

17,59,54,708Cases
5,81,66,715Active
11,39,84,189Recovered
38,03,804Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 193 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 17,59,54,708 and 38,03,804 have died; 5,81,66,715 are active cases and 11,39,84,189 have recovered as on June 14, 2021 at 3:36 am.

India

2,95,10,410 70,421Cases
9,73,15853,001Active
2,81,62,947 1,19,501Recovered
3,74,305 3,921Deaths
In India, there are 2,95,10,410 confirmed cases including 3,74,305 deaths. The number of active cases is 9,73,158 and 2,81,62,947 have recovered as on June 14, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

59,08,992 10,442

1,58,617 167

56,39,271 7,504

1,11,104 2,771

Karnataka

27,65,134 7,810

1,80,856 10,961

25,51,365 18,646

32,913 125

Kerala

27,28,239 11,584

1,23,433 6,478

25,93,625 17,856

11,181 206

Tamil Nadu

23,53,721 14,016

1,49,927 12,146

21,74,247 25,895

29,547 267

Andhra Pradesh

18,09,844 6,770

85,637 5,780

17,12,267 12,492

11,940 58

Uttar Pradesh

17,02,624 452

8,986 820

16,71,852 1,221

21,786 51

West Bengal

14,61,257 3,984

17,651 1,403

14,26,710 2,497

16,896 84

Delhi

14,31,139 255

3,466 144

14,02,850 376

24,823 23

Chhattisgarh

9,86,963 459

13,677 1,405

9,59,969 1,858

13,317 6

Rajasthan

9,49,684 308

7,441 959

9,33,421 1,260

8,822 7

Odisha

8,51,782 4,469

51,681 3,309

7,96,799 7,733

3,302 45

Gujarat

8,20,321 455

10,249 614

8,00,075 1,063

9,997 6

Madhya Pradesh

7,88,183 274

4,251 524

7,75,380 780

8,552 18

Haryana

7,65,861 339

4,661 525

7,52,208 821

8,992 43

Bihar

7,17,215 487

5,312 389

7,02,411 868

9,492 8

Telangana

6,03,369 1,280

21,137 996

5,78,748 2,261

3,484 15

Punjab

5,87,903 956

12,981 1,083

5,59,360 1,980

15,562 59

Assam

4,59,497 2,167

41,373 3,272

4,14,173 5,403

3,951 36

Jharkhand

3,43,458 154

3,395 571

3,34,979 723

5,084 2

Uttarakhand

3,36,879 263

4,633 388

3,25,311 644

6,935 7

Jammu And Kashmir

3,07,412 774

15,081 1,203

2,88,145 1,965

4,186 12

Himachal Pradesh

1,98,550 237

4,777 625

1,90,382 855

3,391 7

Goa

1,62,468 420

4,882 175

1,54,658 581

2,928 14

Puducherry

1,12,528 402

5,331 414

1,05,513 809

1,684 7

Chandigarh

61,110 54

520 20

59,798 71

792 3

Manipur

59,852 530

8,499 211

50,379 726

974 15

Tripura

59,321 235

5,170 382

53,531 610

620 7

Meghalaya

41,906 305

4,623 248

36,550 547

733 6

Arunachal Pradesh

31,282 134

2,885 302

28,252 434

145 2

Nagaland

23,644 82

3,502 131

19,689 208

453 5

Ladakh

19,561 17

658 88

18,706 105

197

Sikkim

18,414 157

3,553 230

14,580 387

281

Mizoram

15,364 97

3,549 111

11,748 203

67 5

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,463 1

78 17

10,381 18

4

Lakshadweep

9,209 34

576 39

8,589 72

44 1

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,261 18

110 11

7,025 29

126

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1 Comment

  1. sivakumar subbiah

    Fascinating example set by Jayalakshmi, kudos to her

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