AKASH LEADS THE WAY

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“What are you up to?” queried 59 year old Pushni Chaudhary when she saw her grandson digging the kitchen garden in the front yard early one morning. Before she could even complete he answered, “To construct a toilet.”

This was none other than 13 year old Akash Chaudhary. He had been part of the discussion that had taken place among the adults in the community to declare Letang VDC of Morang district an open defecation free area.   When he realized that he did not have a toilet in the house, he had made up his mind to dig one. 

By the time his grandmother asked him, he had already started digging a pit. The family members tried hard to convince Akash to stop digging and that they would construct a toilet when his father returned home from overseas. But their entire requests were in vain. This teenager was totally determined. Mangali, the boy’s mother informed, “He only stopped when the family assured him that they would support him to construct the toilet.” Immediately the next morning, his grandmother hired laborers and arranged for the necessary materials to build a toilet. Then the construction work began.

Akash’s grandmother is happy about his wise decision. She expressed, “Only after the construction of the toilet have we understood its importance. In the past we adults visited the bamboo groves, gullies, while the young ones defecated in the courtyard or on the pathways. The villagers would tease and taunt us calling us names. But now we have been relieved of our problems.” Nowadays, even the small children do not like to visit the household where there are no toilets. Pusni further stated an incidence, “Akash refused to go to his cousin’s wedding in another village because they did not have a toilet in their house.” 

Finally, Akash added that using a toilet at home has made things easy and that he does not have to feel ashamed in front of his friends anymore. Akash is happy that he has been able to influence his family members to build a toilet and adopt hygienic behavior at their house as a result of the Child Rights Programme (CRP) implemented in the community since F.Y. 2010/11.

Written by: Hema Samal
Senior Project Supervisor
Letang
Project funded by: Save the Children Finland / WaterAid Nepal
September 2011