Samavesh Project is a place where everyone is given an opportunity to be included. We serve those who are on the outside of society, asking to join in. When listening to the needs of people from a variety of backgrounds, we heard one common desire. People want to be included. People want to be useful. People want an opportunity to be a part of the world around them. Regardless of gender, religion, age or economic status, everyone we listened to has a societal concern they want to address. Environment, education, women’s rights, economic opportunity, plus many more worthwhile causes, have been brought to our attention.
One concern that we heard time and again in West Bengal, India was “we must help the girl child”. It is common to meet females with no education. Illiterate and unable to count money, they often grow up to repeat the cycle of poverty. DevkiOm, one of our partners, has focused on funding education for girls. Gingham Project, the other partner, has focused on literacy and the needs of underprivileged families. We have success in providing toilets and shelter for widows, and building tuition centers in rural villages.
With our past experience, we’ve learned that many girls stopped attending school around age 13. Looking into studies, reading articles, and conducting our own research by talking with girls, we found that once menses starts, many girls do not go to school. We talked with girls as young as age ten who told us that they don’t like going to school, as there is no where to defecate or attend to feminine hygiene in private.
Providing toilets for girls at schools sounded like a great place to focus our energy. As we talked to people and visited many localities, including inner city slums, refugee camps, rural areas and suburbs, the scope of the toilet need began to grow. We started to see toilets that had been built and abandoned. Toilets in use were not healthy. Foul smelling toilets polluted the air, the ground and the water around them. Children and adults were sick with diarrhea, which is often deadly in severely impoverished families. Women and girls will hold their bladders and bowels all day so that they can defecate under the cover of darkness. Water flush toilets required people to carry a heavy bucket of water, for quite a distance, in order to flush them. We started to see toilets as a huge problem.
Upon further investigation, we realized that toilets were important for many reasons beyond girls’ finishing school. We found that working to bring toilets to a population that currently has no access to a clean toilet, is profoundly important.
Here is what we would like you to know about the importance of toilets;
Environmentally, bio toilets will help clean India’s roads, sidewalks, parks, water supply and farmland. They take up only a couple square feet of land, use earth friendly chemicals to naturally break down fecal matter so it can safely drain into a flower garden, use little to no water and can be compatible with solar power, and are cleaned with earth friendly cleaners.
Education will improve in a variety of ways. One, girls will no longer feel ashamed to need to defecate, urinate or attend to feminine issues at school. Two, before assisting a locality to install toilets, we will educate the population on health and hygiene issues related to clean sanitation. Three, healthy kids will miss less school days.
Hygiene will improve, as people will have time and safety, space and light to appropriately finish cleaning themselves after using the toilet. Included in our education program is information about urinary tract health and hand washing.
Health will improve, especially in women, as they will not need to hold their bladders all day, waiting for the privacy of dark. With education and access to hand washing, we will see less of the common disease that is spread through fecal matter.
Economy will improve. Healthy people don’t miss work as often. When kids are healthy and in school, parents can go to work. Women who are physically comfortable will be more productive throughout the day. More work means more money. More money means more purchases in the local economy. We will also be hiring locals to teach about the toilets, and locals to maintain the toilets.
Safety, especially for women, will increase with the privacy of a closed toilet. Women risk their safety daily going into dark, hidden places to defecate/urinate.
Will toilets bring change? With access to clean, sanitary toilets, that they have helped in providing, people can be included in many of the basic rights we would like to share. This idea of being included in opportunities is the bottom line of what we heard people say they want. It’s what we want. We believe that through research, education, involvement and responsibility we can help people bring toilets to their own localities with great success. Our plan is sustainable socially, environmentally and financially.
So, next time you lower your “bottom line” near a loo, give a little smile and know that regardless of race, age, gender, nationality, language, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, etc. we for sure have something in common…
Samavesh, means inclusive… we will include others into our world of health and happiness, by offering opportunity to the underprivileged. With our hands-out, we will lift others according to their need. We welcome participants of all gender, social, religious and financial status.
We are a group of people who are dedicated to including others in life’s best opportunities. Our main goal of bringing toilets to economically depressed areas is sustainable socially, environmentally and financially. We have many fun opportunities for anyone to be involved. We are a Trust/NGO in India and a 501(c)3 Charitable Organization in the United States.