‘Cleanliness is Godliness’, but wherever I went I found the areas near so called Godhomes, the most dirtiest and India which is believed to be the most religious nation on Earth is competing with other nations for the poorest sanitation. I have been brought up in a small town called Hamirpur in U.P and every day I encountered my mother arguing with neighbours for not dumping the waste properly and my father complaining authorities about the issue every week. But, alas, the situation is same as it was years before. As a kid I always wondered what could be done about this but every time I got demotivated when I would hear that this will go on. But being a granddaughter of a freedom fighter my heart always said “we must sail on”.
One fine day when I was coming back home from school I saw some experienced and educated people fighting over the waste they dumped in front of each other’s houses and then I saw little kids searching for a treasure out of that dumped heap. My heart was blown away with that scene and I started blaming my inaction for the poor fate of those little kids. Something has to be done and someone has to raise the voice, so why not me. The glittering eyes of those kids sparkled my mind and embedded me with the strength to sail on.
After joining LSR, I actively engaged in services rendering towards the betterment of society. But Sanitation, I found was a serious challenge in Delhi as well. The stinking streets and the heap of garbage with hundreds of flies and mosquitoes are spoiling the capital of the nation as well as hazardous for health. Haiyya gave me the opportunity to enhance my leadership skills and making me more sensitive towards social issues and encouraged me to take a step forward. Since collective power is a critical element of Change, I realized that change requires that everyone participates and engage. As a committed fellow of Haiyya, I started talking and engaging with the local people to know and understand their problems. I chose Amar Colony as my locality and my prime motive was to build a relationship with the local people and involve them with me so that both of us would feel connected to each other and the issue we are working on. My 5 volunteers joined me with my campaign. While interviewing with the local people, problems like sanitation, parking, water logging, street lights, public toilets were highlighted. I decided to work on the maintenance of public toilets and building a public toilet in Amar Colony area which is a residential area as well as a busy market.
On 18th of December, I along with three other Haiyya fellows oragnized a People Sabha, where local people, Mrs. Savita Gupta- Mayor of the locality, B.N. Sharma-President of the locality and Mr. R.S. Kaushik and Manoj Kumar- officers of MCD, joined us. They thoroughly discussed their problems with the authorities. We basically bridged the gap between local people and the concerned authorities. The local people were hopeful and optimistic and I am grateful for their cooperation. Also, I interacted with street children, whose health is at stake because of the garbage piled up there and their playing area has been spoiled by the waste collected there. The problem has to be solved and I with my fellows and volunteers will be preparing a project report covering all the problems faced by the local people and what possible actions can be taken towards it. We will hand over the report to the authority so that they take the possible actions as soon as possible. Currently, I’m researching for the Sanitation models taken up by other countries and cities which could be adaptable model for Delhi too. I am in a regular contact with the community, concerned authorities and the NGOs working on the similar issue. During my campaign I will be visiting schools and colleges of the area to engage more and more young people with me along with experienced and working ones and not at all ignoring the housewives who faces the problem most. We will work towards raising consciousness and awareness to build a better society to live in. Fixing dreadful sanitation in India requires not just building lavatories but also changing habits.
Saniation is a serious challenge before developing India. Changing habits is not a easy deal and dealing with authorities is not a easy task. But Haiyya has trained me with energy and commitment and I’m enthusiastically dedicated towards my goal. Haiyya has equipped me with the power to give willingly and I’m glad to be a part of Change that I want to see. And as Mahatma Gandhi has said “the best way to find yourself in the service of others”. Though there will be obstacles, there will be disappointments but We must sail on #Zor Laga Ke HAIYYA#.
Pooja Sharma, Haiyya Delhi Fellow and Sociology student at LSR, Delhi University is running a grassroots campaign at Amar Colony area, South Delhi for reconstruction and availability of Public Utilities. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org