World Toilet Day: How This CRY Volunteer Is Using Crowdfunding To Build Toilets For The Underprivileged
By: Rukmini Chopra
Published On: November 19, 2018
On World Toilet Day, Impact Guru revisits this interview with CRY Volunteer who is using the power of crowdfunding for clean sanitation for the poor. Read on!
Having a washroom in our houses is a basic necessity. An existence without it, is unimaginable for most of us. It’s simple; if you want to use the washroom, you take five steps minimum to reach it, finish your ablutions and get back to your daily routine.
But for half the rural population in India, having a toilet is a luxury. In many villages, people travel miles to get access to toilets that are located on the outskirts of the city/town. Many of them defecate in open fields, to avoid travelling. While this practice proves to be convenient for men, women have to bear the brunt of embarrassment and in certain cases, eve teasing as well as sexual harassment.
This report by The Wire says that around 732 million people in India don’t have access to toilets, out of which 355 million are women and girls. Basic sanitation continues to be a rampant problem in India and the lack of hygiene is the cause for diseases such as diarrhoea and anemia (which is caused by hookworms through open defecation).
There’s a severe need to eliminate this problem and NGO CRY (Child Rights and You) recognizes this. The organization started a fundraiser for their initiative to build toilets and provide basic hygienic sanitation facilities to women and children. You can read the details about their fundraiser here.
Sakshi Chaubey, a volunteer with CRY, has been actively involved in promoting the fundraiser and roping in more donors.
Aside from this, she works on field projects for the organization and has finally taken a path she always aspired to. We have a chat with the 21-year-old about how she began her journey with CRY, the challenges she has faced and how the problem of sanitation in India needs to be tackled.
Charity begins at home
“I am studying liberal arts from NMIMS, Mumbai. As a part of my internship project, I was looking to do something in the philanthropy sector, as I always have been interested in that,” says Sakshi, describing how she began working with CRY.
“I looked up a few places and came across CRY foundation. I was amazed by their plethora of work. Their cause resonated with me, especially because it works towards the welfare of children and I am very fond of them. It’s just been a month since I am here. And I am enjoying it a lot,” she adds.
She goes on to reveal that she hails from a family that has always been extensively involved in charity. “Both my parents are doctors and hence have detailed knowledge about the exorbitant costs of medication and treatments in India, especially in the private sector.
Many people hailing from middle-class and poor backgrounds obviously cannot afford such expensive treatments. Hence, my parents make it a point to provide free treatment to such patients and have been involved in this activity since years,” she says.
A trip to Wadala
Sakshi narrates her experience during her visit to the slums in Wadala and how their sorry state of affairs propelled her to work towards the cause of basic sanitation and get involved in fundraising.
“During my visit, I discovered that they (slums in Wadala) are in an atrocious condition,” says Sakshi, adding, “There were no proper sanitation facilities available. Children were being brought up in an unhygienic environment. There were harmful gases being emitted by the cooking stoves, that were affecting the health of the inhabitants.
People were sleeping, eating, cooking, doing everything in that toxic atmosphere and that was very disturbing to see. I personally was overwhelmed seeing all this. Hence we decided to work towards this cause as this situation prevails in hundred other areas in India.”
Doing things 21st century style
The 21-year-old CRY volunteer talks about her fundraising journey and what she is doing to rope in more donors for the organization’s cause. “To promote our fundraiser, I am tackling all social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram as well as Whatsapp, since this is the 21st century and these mediums are highly influential. But despite doing all this, it still gets difficult to get donations so I have to personally reach out to them to contribute to our cause,” says Sakshi.
So how does she tackle this problem? “I have been taking another route which has helped,” informs Sakshi, adding, “I made it a point to contact a lot of NGOs. Many of them are here to help, even if it means not taking their own cause forward. I have also been involved in the process of getting in touch with volunteers that donate to charity on a regular basis.”
Not a cake walk…
Sakshi talks about the challenges that she faces on a regular basis when trying to get donations. “I won’t lie it has been a fairly difficult task ” she says with a heavy sigh and adds, “I have realized that people are more comfortable when it comes to donating in cash. They are skeptical about donating money online as giving out bank details is a problem for them.”
Also, people are hesitant about donating money to NGOs, assuming that many of them are running a scam. Yes, there are organizations that do fishy work and I won’t name them. But there are others like us, that are out there to genuinely help others. It gets difficult to convince people about whether the organization (NGO) as well as the platform (crowdfunding website) is genuine or not.”
She reveals that in order to convince donors to contribute to their fundraiser, Sakshi had to show some of them CRY and Impact Guru’s website. “I had to do this to convince them that both the organizations are genuine and have been in business since years. I had to also present them with data about CRYs work, to assure them that their money will be in safe hands,” she adds.
Back to basics
NGO crowdfunding is still a growing practice in India and Sakshi is of the opinion that it will take time to come up. “The first step is to explain what crowdfunding is,” points out Sakshi, adding that when she approached people for donations, many of them weren’t aware about the practice.
“I feel that there needs to be more awareness about crowdfunding and what it entails. However, it is coming up and a lot of NGOs are turning to it for financial aid and that’s great to see,” says Sakshi.
The solution for sanitation
The lack of sanitation facilities in India is a problem that needs urgent attention. However Sakshi believes that it’s the lax attitude of authorities that is the culprit. “It’s not like they don’t have the means and the resources to help out. The facilities are all there, it’s the implementation process which is missing,” she says.
Sakshi also blames the lack of awareness around sanitation issues. “As a volunteer, a part of my responsibilities is to talk to people about social issues and judge their awareness. Many of them continue to remain ignorant and that’s a cause of worry,” she concludes.
If you wish to volunteer with CRY, you can read about the details here.