Tangisahi village in the Nayagarh district of Orissa welcomes you with bright sunflower field at the entrance of the village. The villagers greet the gram vikas staff and photographers with warm smiles and fresh papayas.
A village meeting was held as an open, general discussion. All the villagers were present for the meeting. The women lined up on one side of the carpet and the men on the other. When asked, how they got to know about the water & sanitation project, it was explained that the President of the village had seen the facilities in his relatives house in the Ganjam district where the project was implemented by Gram Vikas. Thus, he decided to introduce this program in his village also.
He spoke to everyone in the village and got an acceptance from all. He then contacted Gram Vikas for the implementation. The project was successfully implemented and everybody now has access to safe and clean water for bathing & drinking.
Blue Planet Network supported the cost to set-up the water supply system in this village. This contribution is apart from the government & community contribution. The community contributes towards the corpus fund and also towards physical labour for construction of toilets, bathrooms etc.
In hindsight old customs die hard. During menstruation women go to the well for water. They then use this water to bathe separately. When asked to explain about the practice, we were told that they have been following this practice for a very long time. The belief is that the women are impure during this time of the month. And so would not want to contaminate the clean water, as this water is offered to God.
When compared to the state of affairs in the villages before the intervention, particularly in the tribal villages there have been a lot of improvements in the quality of life. However, age old customs and traditions are still followed in the tribal villages. But Gram Vikas has to work its way around some of these.
Tribal villages are often neglected as these communities are small in numbers. More often than not they are excluded from the government schemes because they are unaware as to what is available to them. Gram Vikas works on the policy of “inclusion” and thus believes that the community size is not a limiting factor when it comes being included in any welfare schemes.
Dusashyan Jani is a farmer who tends his nearby fields. After which he comes home and takes a sacred bath. He then offers water to the Tulsi plant, (It has religious significance and also healing power) a ritual practised for centuries, bringing fortune to the person.
Thus “water” is just not water in these villages, it fullfills various needs of the tribal people in more than one way. The important thing is that Tangisahi village now have access to clean water which always seemed impossible.
-By Siri Avalur