Ending open defecation in Rural India: Women receive support from American high school students
January 2015, Karnataka, India
Eight American students from Westminster High School in Atlanta, Georgia, travelled to rural India in order to help construct toilets supporting village women as part of our self-reliant village initiative.
Geared with training in basic masonry and other aspects of toilet construction from the university, the 17- and 18-year-old students travelled by train to Byse, Karnataka, for the construction-phase of the project. They assist women of the village to construct their own toilets as well as immersing in a cultural exchange. Villagers lead the efforts after undergoing basic training and receive support from the students; this unique and innovative approach is part of our 200-crore rupees ($30 million USD) sanitation campaign aimed at ending open-defecation throughout India.
JanTerm hosts an intensive, three-week course of study allowing the students to focus on a single topic in depth at an accelerated pace. Sixty students applied to come to India and only 8 were selected for this rare opportunity.
One student Rahill Kamath is excited to participate in the sanitation efforts. Inspired by our various humanitarian programs, he said “Amma’s work in India is incredible. I am so excited for us to join in this inspiring project.”
Srividya Sheshadri, one of our researchers who oversees the field work said, “The construction of toilets is just the result of a more comprehensive strategy by Embracing the World towards skill development. Our approach is holistic and includes several projects such as improved education, water supply, sustainable agricultural practices, gainful employment and more. Along with learning vocational skills, the entire village is educated on best sanitation practices and the women trained spearhead the community outreach.”
We are looking forward to a second group of high-school students, from Chadwick School, near Los Angeles, California, who will participate in a similar program in March.