“A special invitation for 'loans' went out to SHGs from the Women's Federation of Chandrapur in 2015. Usually provided for small businesses, weddings or for buying a house/vehicle, this was the first time loans were being offered for toilets.
I was excited to see applications flood in. But just 5 of the 22 from my village were for toilets.
So I decided to take up the challenge - to ensure one toilet for every household in my community. I started with awareness drives - be it SHG meetings, village functions or social gatherings, I talked about toilets everywhere I went.
But a transition like this is never easy. I faced harsh criticism. Women avoided me. People ignored me. But I didn't give up and decided to take some women to visit a nearby village where toilets had been built to see it with their own eyes - within a few days, they were ready to build toilets.
In just 3 months, 85% of households in Pimpalgaon had toilets. 100% in 8months. But toilet construction turned out to be the easy part - making people use them was a bigger challenge!
So I formed a 'Good Morning Team' - a group of women who guarded the common place for open defecation every morning. This caused a lot of uneasiness - villagers were frustrated, angry and even made threats.
But we stood our ground and gradually, change seeped in. Today Pimpalgaon has 100% toilet coverage - all of which are being used.
People now call me ‘Meena Tai’ … “