Ramesh Mangla Andher lives in Sayli village, Silvassa, Gujarat. He works as a Panchayat clerk and contributes to the household with his two brothers. All the brothers live together in one house along with their respective families and their mother, Harku Mangla Andher. A joint family with 16 members, their home never had a toilet until recently. Today with the support from Habitat for Humanity India, the family has their own toilet in their home. Ramesh had a huge role to play in making this possible.

The family has fields behind their house where they cultivate rice. Earlier every member of the house would use the fields to relieve themselves. Sometimes they would use the toilet which was near his house that belonged to a shopkeeper. The shopkeeper would charge Rs. 5/- per head for using the toilet facility. On some days they would also use the nearby river to defecate. Ramesh and his family would drink less water to avoid frequent urination which severely hampered their health. Ramesh remembers “It was very difficult especially during the rains. The wet mud would make it problematic for us to even walk; defecating in such a situation was even worse. At night there was also the fear of snakes, we had to carry torches to go out in the fields just to relieve ourselves.”

Ramesh played a significant part in helping other families in his village to build a toilet in their home. He accompanied the Habitat team to visit most of the families that didn’t have a toilet. There were some major concerns that the community faced because of lack of a toilet. Ramesh explains “The women in the village had a tough time when they would use the fields for their toilet needs. They had no choice but to go into the fields at 5 am in the morning so that nobody would see them. However young boys would take advantage and try to click their photos. There have been many instances when I had to fight the boys off myself by throwing stones at them.” With the new toilet in their home, women in the village no longer live in fear of being eve teased or embarrassed.

A total of 169 toilets have been built in Sayali village by Habitat India, including one toilet in an Anganwadi. A key highlight of these toilets is that they have all been set up through prefab construction. This modern method of construction hasn’t hampered the durability or stability of the sanitation facility. Ramesh says

“We have had no water problems or any other glitches. I am glad that my daughters won’t have to go out in the field to defecate now. It was difficult for my mother to defecate in the open, especially when she fell sick. This toilet has come as God’s blessing.”

Ramesh is now happy to have a sanitation facility which provides a safe and hygienic life for his family and many families in his village.