A School Without Sanitation – Would You Go?

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A Class X student Rohit Sathish narrates his experience in the school newsletter

One day my one of my friends called me up. We talked about many things and then my friend told me “There are hundreds of things we can talk about like poverty eradication, social action, environmental change etc., but what do we actually do?”  This particular statement influenced me quite a bit as I thought of the things I had actually done. The answer I arrived at was – nil. I had done nothing for my society. I thought I could do social and environmental work later in life, but the thought that I had done practically nothing bothered.  I always prided myself on having good values and principles, but what is the use if it does not drive you to take action?

So that was what I decided to do, take action. Reap Benefit is a small but hard-working organization, whose members strive to make green a habit. They believe in initiating systemic changes in society, not only by coming up with solutions and ideas but also with hands-on work. They had come to our school for some sessions and helped us take that very same action. Action is the key word. Everybody is a good orator in today’s world, it is the doers who are hard to find. So I called up one of the Reap Benefit members, Kuldeep, and explained my desire to work for the society and the environment. He and Gautam, another brilliant member of the team, accepted me graciously.

So soon I was sitting on the bus, moving slowly towards their office near Shantinagar bus stand. We had breakfast together as they welcomed me into the team. I was left in suspense as to what exactly I was doing. After breakfast, it was decided that I would head off with Gautam to help him install low cost sanitation at VV Puram School. Yes, this was the type of thing I wanted. I was very eager to start off and soon enough we arrived at VV Puram. The girl’s toilet was very unclean and the flushes were used as dustbins and had to be cleared. So we brought some gloves and manually removed all the garbage. We also fixed gunny bags with threads and hung them next to the toilet for the girls to throw their waste. We also provided disinfectants for cleaning. The locks in the boy’s toilet had to be fixed too and we got the necessary tools to shave of the extra wood. As an additional effort I was also in charge of creating a garden area within the school. This doesn’t seem like a lot off work but we started off at around 10:30 finished at 4:30 with a lunch break in between. It was good work done and Gautam had been a perfect mentor, well actually he was my hero. And I was going to meet my hero tomorrow, this time at Sarakki Government School.

At Sarakki, the problem was in water management and again, cleanliness of the girl’s toilet. Gautam had previously cut off the top part of the big water cans and used them as sinks to save water. This water was directed to a tank and a basic filter was placed in-between to get somewhat clean water. This water was redirected into the girl’s toilet to wash away the urine. The major contribution I made was in setting up the piping for the water to flow into the toilet. Gautam is pretty knowledgeable when it comes to hardware, so he passed it on to me.

I came away from this effort with a sense of satisfaction at what I had done and that’s all that I wanted. I had finally stopped talking and done something. I am looking forward to do more work with Gautam and Reap Benefit. Somehow I feel I have applied Gandhiji’s famous quote to some extent in my own life.

 

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhiji

 

By Rohit Sathish

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