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Komal Hadala Gets Lauded By Norwegian PM For Bringing A Toilet Revolution In A Village Of Ghaziabad

  • IWB Post
  •  January 8, 2019

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg who is on a three-day visit to India toured Nithora village of Ghaziabad as part of a UNICEF programme. That is where she heard about Komal’s initiative of building toilets in the village when she found none in the vicinity.

Twenty-two-year-old Komal, who is from Dakshinpuri in Delhi, came to Nithora after getting married in June 2017. The next morning Komal was shocked to find out that women from the village wanted her to accompany them to the fields to answer nature’s call before the men were out on the roads. No one had thought of building toilets at home because it would threaten the “purity of their homes”.

Talking about the daily ordeal the women had to go through, she shared, “If going to the fields in the morning wasn’t embarrassing enough, we would often be herded out by farmers who came with sticks and stones. I had come from a home that had a proper bathroom. Every morning was a challenge for me. I would hold my stomach so that I don’t have to go to the fields. But how long could one do that?”

Tired of the embarrassment that she faced every morning, Komal raised the topic of basic amenities with her in-laws for which she received support from them and her husband. The next step was that she approached the village head and urged him to appeal to the government for monetary help to set up toilets. She was backed by a few more women from the village who supported her petition and eventually, after getting some funds from the government and some affluent farmers in Nithora, Komal’s efforts paid off and as a result, the village is now equipped with toilets in 250 households.

But the task of getting villagers to use the toilets wasn’t easy either. “We were used to going to the fields since our birth. How would that change in a day? It took time, but the scenario eventually changed,” shared Komal’s mother- in- law.

Komal is now a member of the Nigrani Samiti (vigilant committee) of the government’s ODF initiative. After receiving appreciation for her work by the Norwegian PM a delighted Komal shared, “She heard my story and said ‘well done’. That was a big morale-booster.”

Under the UNICEF programme, Solberg interacted with children, parents, and the villagers and said, “Sanitation is an important issue, it is getting girls to go to school. One of the women told me she came from a house where there was a bathroom. But after her marriage, she found that her husband’s house did not have any toilet. She faced a lot of difficulty going out in the open. We need to solve these developmental challenges. The government’s initiative (Swachh Bharat) is addressing these problems directly.”

Adding to this she also shared that she is happy to know that parents in India are proud to have daughters. “What really touches my heart the most is to listen to parents say it’s enough with two girls and we don’t feel the need for a boy. The tradition in India has been that you need to have a son. It is very inspiring to see a change now.”

Acknowledging Prime Minister Narender Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign, Solberg said, “I think that’s a man doing everyday, normal life politics… it might seem not-so-visionary, not up in the skies but it’s everyday politics and we need to solve this sustainable development challenges because sanitation is an extremely important part.”

H/T: The Times Of India


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