Suka Maya Moktan, 81, is a resident of the Belghari Chisapani community located in the Tinpatan Rural Municipality, Sindhuli District. At 81, she is still strong, active and does all the household chores. The journey of her life, however, has not been very easy. Married at the age of 15, she frequently caught diarrhea because she lacked awareness about basic sanitary and hygienic practices. Up until the age of 78, she practiced open defecation because her house lacked a latrine. Handwashing with soap at critical times was something she had never practiced.

The more disturbing fact was that the entire community practiced open defecation and lacked awareness about sanitary and hygienic practices. Things started to change two years ago when her VDC initiated an ODF movement where the village residents, with the support from the local government, constructed latrine near their dwelling. At the time when the VDC was declared an ODF zone, Suka Maya’s family had a latrine and they were already practicing closed defecation. However, they still lacked knowledge and awareness on other basic hygiene and sanitation-related practices besides latrine use. In 2017-18, NEWAH implemented a water supply and sanitation project in Suka Mays’s community.

As a part of the project, NEWAH conducted several sanitation and hygiene-related capacity building activities in the community. Suka Maya participated in basic WASH training and cluster awareness campaigns. She also benefited from the on-site demonstrations and personal coaching NEWAH field staff provided. Now, Suka Maya’s daily routine has changed for good. She not only practices closed defecation and hand-washing at critical times but also encourages other community members and the children to do so. She also maintains her personal hygiene, keeps the kitchen, the utensils and the food clean and safely disposes of the household waste. “The sanitation and hygiene education has changed my behavior,” Suka Maya further says, “I have understood the consequences of not following good hygiene and sanitation practices. The diarrheal diseases shall no more make me sick. I look forward to living 15 more years.” Overwhelmed by the prospect of seeing drinking water at her doorstep, courtesy of the charity: water supported project, she adds, “There is indeed no age limit for learning good hygiene and sanitation practices.”