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Off the beaten track

Stories from India

Clive Wedderburn November 18, 2014


As our fifth Just a Drop project comes to an end, we wanted to bring you some stories on how the local community of Mahadalit Tola, in Bihar – one of the most remote locations of Vaishili District in India, has already benefited from their new facilities.

Project Manager Melissa Campbell at Just a Drop explains how it’s helped the community.
“Before our project with Hayes and Jarvis, open defecation, as with most of rural India, was a socially accepted practice in Mahadalit Tola. Human waste was scattered across the village, attracting flies and spreading diseases such as diarrhoea and typhoid. Also for privacy, many women and girls would leave their homes early in the morning or late at night to relieve themselves in the fields. This practice would leave them vulnerable to attack. Thanks to support from Hayes and Jarvis, the community in Mahadalit Tola have been provided with a community toilet block. This has dramatically changed the lives of those living in the community, particularly the women and girls. Let me introduce you to some of their stories."
Pinki Devi is a 45-year-old housewife with two sons and two daughters. Before the project, Pinki would go to the toilet in a field almost one kilometre away from her home. She often went early in the morning with a group of other women from the community. For these women, it has been a long ordeal of compromising their dignity and privacy. The rainy season was the most difficult period for them as they were forced to use road flanks for defecation. Pinki was delighted with the construction of the community toilet complex. She told us that she never dreamt of having this in her village and is very happy.
Around six months ago, Sudama Devi, who is in her 50s was bitten by an insect whilst defecating in a field one evening. It took a long while for her to recover from the excruciating pain of the bite. Sudama is now pleased that there is somewhere sheltered for her to go to the toilet. Although she has always defecated in the open, it is something that has made her feel ashamed and was often worried about being discovered local men. With a community toilet now available, she feels relief that her safety and dignity have been restored.
Shamshi Khatoon has three teenage daughters and two sons. She, like many of the other women we spoke to, was terrified of being attacked or raped when she would go to the toilet on her own. In her own village, sexual attacks on adolescent girls are particularly prevalent so she was often worried for her daughters. Now, with the construction of this community toilet, she knows her family can use the toilet in a safer environment.
Suman Devi is 20-years-old and lives in the village with her two young children. Before the community toilet was built, Suman had to walk a long way to go to the toilet. She felt scared to leave her children behind, but now she is delighted that there is a convenient toilet for her to use and she no longer has to sacrifice her dignity and privacy.
Just a Drop will continue to check the progress of the community and update us on how the residents continue to benefit from these new facilities. Look out for updated stories and news on our next project in the next edition of Footprints, the FREE digital version of which is due to launch 30th January 2015. Each edition is also full of expert advice and great holiday inspiration.  Just search Hayes and Jarvis on the Newsstand to download Footprints magazine onto your ipad.
Dirty water kills a child every 20 seconds. In the next 20 seconds you can help save a life with Just a Drop. To donate, visit or text JADH20 followed by the amount you wish to donate to 70070. If you would like to find out more about the great work of Just a Drop visit: