A girl from North India has came all the way from Chandigarh to work with people in grassroot level and has built 75 toilets in BC Halli. Ushma Goswami (23), On a one year fellowship she has come to the Village in last August. She was appalled to see that majority of the households did not have a toilet of their own and were defecating in the open fields. The two main reasons were though many people wanted to build toilet. Under Swatch Bharath only after toilets are built the money is sanctioned, and most of the villagers dint had initial money to build the toilet. While other problem faced by villagers was lack of space.
Learning over this, Ushma approached NGO Dhan Foundation and helped the villagers to build toilets through ‘Sanitation loan’. With this she is contributing to the Swatch Bharat Andolan and her aim is to make the village free of open defecation by August. Since December 75 toilets have been built, and 200 more to built. . Since March she is working simultaneously for Kodagalli Panchayat in T Narasipur and around 150 toilets are under construction.
Under SBI Youth for India fellowship, she has been selected as fellow, and she will be working for 13 months in rural developments. Ushma who has completed her Masters in Political Science, said:‘I had studied about problems in rural development, local governance, education, health issues had learnt. Thus, wanted to work on grass root level. When I was selected under the fellowship programme, during same time had cleared M.Phil entrance. But, I choose to serve in village and rushed to Karnataka. Now, in the last eight months have become one among villagers.’
“I faced communication problem in initial days, as I dint know the local Kannada language. But, even without knowing language, the love and affection showered on me from villagers, connected me to them emotionally. Slowly, I learnt the language and now am able to communicate with them using simple Kannada words. Have also visited Odissi to see the toilet construction works taken in the state. My goal is to make the villages free of open defecation by August,” she adds.
She also found that there was no English teacher for the kids studying at the local Primary school when she took English classes for six months to high school children in the last academic year.She also helps the villagers by opening a small pharmacy store to dispense commonly used over the counter medicines. She is also educating villagers about government schemes, and educating villagers about how to file Aadhar online, ration card by providing information.
Stating Infrastructure is better in South India, compared to North India, she said she has set her goals of attempting the UPSC exams and dedicate herself for the service of humanity.
Villager Girish said: ‘We did not had Rs 6,000 to construct a ordinary toilet. Learning over the problems, we were connected to a NGO and were provided with sanitation loan, which helped us to get the toilets build. We are moved by the initiative of the girl. She is teaching the youngsters the use of Internet, how to obtain government facilities, and how to claim our rights.’