Flashing cameras and a horde of journalists is not something they see every day in this little village 250 kilometres from Bhopal. But since one if its citizens made headlines around the world, the media have made the long trip over dusty Indian roads to visit the village. They all want to see Anita Narre’s toilet – the one that made her return to her husband and won her 10,000 dollars.
Eager to see what all the fuss is about, the villagers gather in a tent in the town square. Dr Prathak of Sulabh International – an organization that promotes safe sanitation – has arrived from Delhi. He has come here to meet Anita Narre for the first time and personally award her a check for 10,000 US dollars (7,660 euros) during a special ceremony.
Like many women in India, Anita didn't see her husband’s house before they were married. After the ceremony she travelled to the small village that was to be her new home. But when she arrived at her in-law’s house she was in for a shock.
“There wasn’t a toilet anywhere. I stayed one night, but the next day I said to my in-laws that it was important to have one and until one was made I would go home,” Anita Says.
Amazed by the story of the bride who refused to move in with her husband until he build her a toilet, Dr Prathak awarded Anita the 10,000 dollars. He sees the generous prize as an investment, knowing that it will put one of India‘s biggest problems in the spotlight,
“Sanitation should have been the top-most priority of the government of India, because after [64 years of] independence people still have to go outside to defecate. This is not good for the country,” Dr Prathak says.
South Asia Wired
On this week’s show you’ll hear Anita’s story and that of another inspirational young woman. Marije Blom founded her own organization to build homes for tsunami victims in country of birth Sri Lanka.
Listen to this week's show here (or click here)
Homes for Sri Lanka
Soon after the tsunami hit Sri Lanka in 2004, Marije Blom visited the country with her family. Shocked by what they saw the family decided they wanted to help the victims.
“We saw many families living under plastic held up by some wooden poles. The first thing I thought was that these people need a new house,” Marije says.
Although her typically Dutch name might not suggest it, Marije was born in Sri Lanka. Twenty-six years ago she was adopted by Dutch parents along with her twin brother. But the ties to Sri Lanka always remained.
The feeling that she wanted to give something back to the people of the country in which she was born only grew after the Tsunami. With the support of friends and family she founded an organization that builds homes for people who lost everything in 2004. The Neta Foundation has so far been able to build homes for seven families and even supports an orphanage.