A young social worker from a small village of Chandgaon in Yeola taluka here has embarked on a new mission to educate people on the necessity of constructing toilets in rural areas by printing an appeal for the same on Diwali greeting cards this year.
Inspired by Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, whose charitable organisation Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, works towards improving access to sanitation facilities across the globe, Sunil Ahire, who is in his early 30s, began working on the cause a few years ago, writing articles in newspapers and periodicals on the issue.
But this year, he decided to mix Diwali wishes with an appeal to construct toilets on greeting cards to spread awareness in this regard.
And, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Swachha Bharat Abhiyan’ on October 2, Ahire’s plans to promote the need for adequate sanitation facilities got a big push.
He printed over 1,000 Diwali cards in Marathi and Hindi, extending his wishes to people on the festival coupled with an appeal to construct toilets and a message explaining the sanitation-related health and environment concerns while dissuading people from open defecation.
“Today everyone possesses a mobile…But does everyone have a toilet,?” asks the card in bold letters depicting a picture of Mahatma Gandhi and also a toilet model highlighting his message for cleanliness on the inside page.
These greeting cards have been sent to various voluntary organisations, public companies and media-persons to spread the word on lack of sanitation in rural areas.
Ahire said he has been addressing the issue for quite a while. Earlier also, he made such an appeal on printed wedding cards of one of his relatives, to reach out to as many people as possible on the matter.
The social worker has also visited Vindeshwar Pathak of ‘Sulabh international Shauchalaya’ which is credited with building 13 lakh toilets in houses and 8,000 toilets in public places so far.
He also bought various ‘toilet’ models from Pathak, with whom he stayed for a while in Delhi to study and survey his projects.
“Still 67 per cent of the people living in rural areas have no toilets..Another 19 per cent who have it, are still going out in the open,” he says.