Having just returned from India I am pleased to share this story of one of the girls your generosity is helping to support.
Dipali Shinde’s story
Sitting on a wooden bench, dressed in her school uniform, 13 year old Dipali Shinde looks like an ordinary school girl. Away from school; however, this talented and dedicated teenager, has helped to transform her village of Pokhari into a model rural community which demonstrates good hygiene and sanitation.
Since the age of eight, Dipali has played an active role in the village Balpanchayat. This Child Parliament was formed under the supervision of Karuna project partner NISD and as Minister for Sanitation and Hygiene Dipali is responsible for protecting fellow children of the village against illness by ensuring the teaching of good hygiene practices and lobbying householders to improve sanitation.
Dipali explains a little about the group and her role.
Why are children taking responsibility for issues usually dealt with by grown ups?
If the grown ups dealt with these issues we wouldn’t have to. Our Balpanchayat is for the protection of children. We want to live in a village which is safe and clean for children. Before we started no households had toilets. People used to go to the toilet anywhere and children and adults had bad hygiene practices.
By holding rallies and teaching good hygiene practices through street plays we have made a big difference. Now all households have toilets and children know to cut their nails, to clean their hands after using the toilet and how to keep food and water clean.
What difference has that made to children’s health?
Children would often be ill with vomiting, headaches and diarrhoea. Children got illnesses like Dengi, Malaria and Typhoid. Now it is much less common.
You seem to know a lot about the effects of poor hygiene and sanitation?
Yes, I want to be a doctor when I leave school. I want to provide better health to those who are sick.
What is the biggest health risk now?
A lot of households do not have soak pits for waste water. Instead the water goes onto the ground. It then becomes stagnant which attracts mosquitoes, which carry disease.
What are you doing about the problem?
We are campaigning householders to dig soak pits. They are six feet deep and filled with broken bricks and stones. If every household does this we will have no more stagnant pools and many less mosquitoes.
What message do you have for supporters of Karuna?
We know we are very fortunate. Not many children have this opportunity. Thank you for giving us the chance to do this. If you keep giving, more children can be helped in this way.
NISD is a project partner of Karuna, committed to giving children living in poverty in 150 villages across rural Sangamner and Pimpalgaon Joge, Maharashtra the opportunity to enjoy better health, education and equal rights.
Thank you for your generous on going support.
Dipali with the child parliament