“We faced lot of problems earlier as there was only one toilet in the school. There was water shortage and we had to wait in the queue. It was even more difficult during our menstrual period. The girls would dispose the pads in the toilet and this would cause a lot of trouble for the cleaners. We are very happy that Habitat for Humanity India has built such a big toilet for us.”

Prerna Sopandev Patil
Class 11, Government Sarvottam Higher Secondary School, Silvassa

Habitat for Humanity India has helped build a sanitation complex for the girl students of the Government Sarvottam Higher Secondary School in Rakholi village, Silvassa. The 1500 square feet sanitation complex consists of 20 urinals and 13 lavatories. The sanitation complex also has a sanitary napkin vending machine and an incinerator to dispose them. It will cater to nearly 700 girl students and 25 female teachers of the school. Earlier the girls were forced to use the old toilet which was always dirty and never had enough water. To add to this there was only one toilet that all the 700 girls used.

15 year old Jigisa Rajeshbhai Patel from class 11 recalls “The old toilet was filthy and the water supply was irregular. We are excited to use the new toilet now.” Leena Bharatbhai Prajapati who is 16 and studies in class 11 with Jigisa adds “My previous school had a better toilet and we even have a toilet at home. I never liked using the old toilet in school because it was mostly dirty.”

The sanitation complex also houses a changing room equipped with an incinerator and a sanitary napkin vending machine. Some of the girls mentioned about the dilemma the cleaners faced previously.

Sneha Kishorebhai Parma from class 10 highlights “Our teachers would explain to us to be ready before our menstrual days and carry pads from home. But most of the time we would forget and couldn’t keep track. Our teachers have told us about the sanitary vending machine, the incinerator and about the dustbins which will be kept inside the complex. We hope we won’t have to face any problems with all these facilities now.”

Since most of the girls travel from far off places to come to study in this school, the sanitation complex will prove to be highly beneficial to them. All the girls are thrilled to be using this complex now.

16 year old Rajashri Kishore Kapde studies in class 11 in the school, she says “Through the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan, I am happy to see that the government thinks about us. We feel nice that this toilet has been built for us. We promise to keep it clean now.” 15 year old Nikita Dilipbhai Patel from class 10 adds “The Swachch Bharat Abhiyan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi should be followed by all of us. We should start by keeping our homes and school clean so that our country can develop.”

Not only the students, but even the teachers are extremely happy about this intervention. Ms. Sadhana Bhaveshkar who teaches Gujarati and Hindi to class 9 and 10 students says “We are very happy to see that the toilets can be used by the teachers too. It will also benefit the pregnant teachers in our school. Our school timing is from 9:30am to 4:40pm as such we need to use the toilet regularly during the day. Earlier we had only Indian toilets but this complex also has western toilets. This is a great initiative for the girls. When they get their period it becomes difficult for them to go back home since they live very far. This complex will benefit them during their menstrual days. The earlier toilet didn’t even have a proper flush and we faced a lot of problems. These new toilets will help us to keep ourselves healthy.”

The Principal of Sarvottam Higher Secondary School, Silvassa, Mr. P.K. Patel commented, “Compared to the other schools in this area, our school has the most number of female students. Many of them drop out or stop coming to school because of lack of facilities. We are thankful to Habitat for Humanity India for choosing our school to build this toilet facility for our girls. This has enabled us to build a good learning environment and will also teach the students about sanitation and hygiene. We are also happy to say that looking at this new sanitation complex parents are now more than willing to send their girls to study here thereby increasing the number of school admissions. We are hopeful that this project will lead to reduced dropout rates of girls.”

This project has been a key intervention for Habitat for Humanity India as it was completed well before the stipulated time. Various specific research and impact tools were developed by the team for this project because of which it has been a huge success. The school authorities and the girls see the complex as a temple to keep clean. They have all promised to take care of the complex and maintain the hygiene in and around it. Habitat India works largely with tribal communities across the country for their improvement and better living conditions. This project exhibits Habitat’s vision of creating a world where everyone deserves a decent place to live.