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An orphan girl inspires her panchayat to become ODF

Aug 25, 2019

Due to her efforts, Urmila’s gram panchayat was the first in Gaighat block of Muzaffarpur to be declared ODF

Muzaffarpur/New Delh: For Urmila, the practice of open defecation in her Jarangbaluhana village in Muzaffarpur district of Bihar was not acceptable. A practice that had been observed and practised over decades by every single person in the village only made her seek alternatives to abolish this practice.

With the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) campaign came the knowledge of how open defecation significantly hampers health and even leads to death and Urmila was motivated to go the lone way to ensure that the fecal-oral route to the transmission of disease was arrested.

An orphan, Urmila, now aged 14, had been raised by relatives ever since her childhood when she had lost both her parents. Knowledge about the safe sanitation practices only pushed the need for a clean environment and a clean toilet at all time for her family members.

The challenges for an adolescent of going out in answer to nature’s calls like a craving for safety, privacy only made her resolve stronger to work towards constructing a toilet at home. Safety forced young women in the village to open defecation in daylight, while shame and an urgent need for privacy forced them to seek nightfall to relieve themselves.

One of the biggest challenges remained a lack of funds to construct a toilet. Seeking help from neighbours with a promise of returning their money assisted her in collecting enough money to get a toilet constructed in her house.

Little did she know that her determination, resolve and courage would influence and motivate others to seek the same privacy and safety for the women in their homes and bring about nothing short of a revolution in her small village!

Urmila’s gram panchayat was the first in Gaighat block of Muzaffarpur to be declared ODF, partly due to her efforts as she became their role model. She has been recognized and awarded with a scholarship extended by the state government to complete her studies.

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