It’s something many of us do not think twice about, but for thousands of women in India it’s constantly on their minds – where to go to the bathroom?
A local Girl Scout is helping hundreds of people answer that question, one toilet at a time.
15-year-old Khushali Desai is asking others to join her in the Clean India Movement.
It’s an initiative to eliminate open defecation in the country by 2019.
“About 626 million people didn’t have access to a household toilet which if you think about it in perspective is double the population of the United States,” said Khushali Desai.
Lack of sanitation leads to water contamination, which leads to water borne illnesses.
“Diarrhea is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5 in India,” Desai said.
It also creates another danger.
“Women are 50% more likely to get sexually harassed or assaulted if they do not have access to a household toilet,” Desai said.
For Desai, it is unacceptable.
“I feel strongly about women’s issues and women’s health,” Desai said.
Desai spoke with women in India.
Some telling her they eat less so they don’t have to use the restroom as much because of the dangers.
Desai set out to eliminate those dangers through Girl Scouts.
As a part of her Gold Award Project, the highest award a Girl Scout can earn, Desai raised more than $14,000 to build 200 household toilets Jhagadia, in the state of Gujarat, India.
“I really felt that if I did something in India, I would be really making an impact,” Desai said.
The toilets she helped build are partially funded by the Indian government and the labor is provided by the families receiving the toilet.
“In their philosophy, they believe only when you give a part of your own money do you tend to value things,” Desai said.
Desai provided the rest, roughly $70 per toilet.
It may seem like a small amount but it will make a big impact in the lives of many.
“Help out a person, even if you’re not personally attached to something. It’s always good to keep giving to things that are good and helpful in the world,” Desai said.
The toilet’s Desai helped build consist of two pits.
One pit is kept open at a time and the idea is that after two years human waste becomes bio-fertilizer.
The toilet also only uses 1 liter of water per flush.
Anyone interested in more information can reach out to Desai on the following websites: