Toilets; That's All These Two Teens Wished For | Milaap

Toilets; That's All These Two Teens Wished For

A 16-year-old's Birthday Wish

Samyukta Singh would soon turn sixteen. Every year, her parents had made her birthday special, with a cake, a celebration, and gifts. This year, though, would be different: “By the luck of draw, I was born to parents who can give me all that I need. So many birthdays. So many gifts. Maybe not half as many fancy gifts as all my other friends get (because my parents believe kids should not be spoiled!). All I’ve had to do is ask. This year, for the first and last time, I was going to turn a ‘Sweet Sixteen’. All my friends had organized gorgeous ‘Sweet Sixteen’ celebrations. I wanted my sixteenth to be extra special too. I didn’t want to organize a huge party; that just isn’t me. But I certainly wanted it to be different. . This year, I wanted to get a gift of giving. I wanted my family to take whatever they would’ve spent on my gifts, and give it to someone in need.[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3933,3750,3929"] I would be asking my folks to give their money to complete strangers. Whatever I was planning had to be very persuasive and credible. Mom suggested Milaap, as she had been lending to their causes for a while. I looked it up. They made it all seem fairly simple: to make a difference, get folks to lend a minimum of $25 or Rs. 500. That’s an affordable sum; it’s what you’d spend on a weekly dine-out. Also, any money my folks gave, they would be eventually repaid. Persuasive enough for me!”

[stag_button url="" style="red" size="large" type="stroke" target="_self" icon="" icon_order="before"]Inspired? Pledge Your Birthday[/stag_button]

The Other 16-year-old's Wish

Ten thousand miles away, in rural Musiri, in the Tiruchirappalli district of Tamil Nadu, another 16-year-old made a wish. Sudha did not have a toilet at home. She had to resort to using the fields and shrubbery to relieve herself. She didn’t know any better as a child, but growing up into a teenager, she hated the false privacy of the vegetation. DSC_1092_EditEscape came in the form of a chance to enrol for a course in the city. Her older sister didn’t have the same luck; she lived with her family. In Sudha’s absence, she had to go to the fields alone, which was very risky. But during vacations, when Sudha had to come home, it was back to the same old situation. “We would huddle and run to the fields, shivering in the rain, before the sun came up.  If the risk of molestation or eve-teasing wasn’t bad enough, things got unbearable when it rained.” She had to put up with it, of course, so she wished hard for a way out.

Can You Please Gift Me a Toilet?

“Being my Mom’s daughter has meant exposure to social causes, particularly, water and sanitation (Mom, Sahana Singh, is the editor of Asian Water Magazine). I was horrified to learn that rural Indian women, and girls like me, arise daily before dawn and walk to fields to relieve themselves. They get ill from controlling their urge to urinate all day. I had to help them. 

For too long I have taken these possessions for granted. Most of all my toilet. I never had to ask “Can you please gift me a toilet?” I have known for a while that toilets and sanitation are taboo topics. But don’t we all wait to come back home to our own toilet?

So I setup my birthday fundraiser. I used the two weeks of winter break to call and email my family about my birthday wish. Mom posted on Facebook. Everyone was very supportive. We raised over $2600. And this year, on my special sixteenth birthday, I got the gift of giving 16 toilets to 16 families in rural India. It felt great! I know we didn’t solve India’s sanitation problems, but it feels good to know we helped at least some of those people. At the end of the day, it feels better to give than receiving gifts yourself. I thought I had to be grown-up, have years of experience in order to impact society. But this fundraiser helped me make a difference sitting right here in my room. It allowed me to reach out beyond my small world. I hope to do more: follow-up on the 16 toilets being built, visit them on my next trip to India, volunteer. I hope everyone who’s been a part of this with me gets more involved.”[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3921"] Milaap, through its partnership with GUARDIAN, a local non-profit, connected Sudha’s family to its community of champions like Samyukta and lenders like Sahana. They received a loan, and built a toilet. Sudha’s wish came true, for real. “We couldn’t go and relieve ourselves when it rained. We couldn’t relieve ourselves at night. Now, we can go whenever we need to,” she beams.Every day, Champions like Samyukta are making wishes come true for girls like Sudha. As rural women and girls get access to toilets at home, they are no longer exposed to the threat of molestation. Their sons and menfolk have begun to appreciate the importance of practicing this basic level of hygiene. No longer having to spend on doctors, they have better savings. They enjoy better health.[gallery type="rectangular" ids="3923,3924"]

 They Need More Champions

Our growing community needs more Champions, folks like you. To support the cause of rural families seeking sanitation in India. To empower mothers, skill the youth, save the future of children, bring water, or bring light. You too can be a Champion, like Samyukta, and transform the lives of girls, like Sudha. 

[stag_button url="" style="red" size="large" type="stroke" target="_self" icon="" icon_order="before"]Inspired? Pledge Your Birthday[/stag_button]