At an age when youngsters try to fill in the shoes of their parents, struggling their way through numerous interviews, to find a well-paid job that would make them stand strong on their feet. Bhavya Rani, 30, quit her well-paying, decent job to fulfill a divergent purpose.
At 23, unaided by the government she saw it as her own responsibility to build toilets and to purify Karnataka’s villages.
With people realising the paramount of Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan now, Bhavya has been working in the shadows full of dirt. Having completed her master of Social Work degree from Alva’s College in Moodbidiri, she began her career working for an NGO named Swasti in Bengaluru. It was in 2010, when she visited a village in Tumakuru for a wedding occasion that she put her step forward to change her career and the way of life.
For the past 6 years she had been trying hard to form a gram panchayat when the government was least bothered and “busy”. After conferring her blood and sweat, she with her 2 lakh savings along with her parents support, bought all the required materials, sufficient to build about 100 toilets. Following, the famous quote, “charity begins at home”, she built the first toilet in the house where she was staying.
“The village was beautiful but I was horrified to see open defecation still being practised there. Coming from a place where cleanliness and sanitation are given utmost importance, I started wondering why these people were unaware of the need of basic facilities. There was zero knowledge about government schemes among the villagers.Hence, I decided to take up the responsibility and dedicate my life to the mission of cleanliness,” says Bhavya.
Bhavya’s dedication help build 443 toilets and currently the region has 1,343 houses of which 884 houses still do not have toilets, in Shettigondanahalli. It has been a journey full of hurdles for Bhavya as she recalls,“Back in 2010, only eight of about 1,280 houses in the region had toilets. Apart from building toilets, changing the villagers’ mindset to use them was a tedious task. Open defecation is an age-old practice. Convincing villagers to construct and use toilets consumed more time”
After the government which supposedly takes care of the needs and ensures the welfare of its people, shut its door for Bhavya, she took the duty on her young shoulders.“That is when I decided to do it on my own. PM Narendra Modi branded Swachh Bharat and prior to that, there were initiatives like Nirmal Bharat Abhiyaan and others. Government provides `12,000 (for General Category) and `15,000 (for SC/ST) to build toilets but since it involves a lot of paperwork, many people, especially villagers, don’t come forward. There is no awareness too,” she said, adding, “That is where people like you and me should come out to fill the gap”.
The centre and the state can only dream to make India open defecation free by 2019, if they keep refusing support from the educated and the people who are willing to help.
“I want to create a model Gram Panchayat with my efforts, which can inspire individuals and officials concerned to take up similar initiatives.”says an eager Bhavya who has her next quest already chalked out and is all set to become an inspiration.