This Article is From Nov 19, 2015

Transgenders Bring Government and Villages Together to Build Toilets

Bhopal: Sanjana Singh and her team have been using their singing and dancing skills to make 12 villages in the Bhopal district cleaner.

Ms Singh, 30, a transgender, runs an NGO for her community. When the Madhya Pradesh government requested the NGO, Mitra Shringaar Samiti, last year to be a part of the Swacch Bharat Mission, she happily agreed. It is now the team's mission to campaign from door to door for better sanitation in the villages.

"It's a good opportunity given by the state government. I could not say no and became part of the campaign. It has helped me prove to the society that we transgenders are capable of doing more than entertaining people," says Ms Singh.

In 2014, the Supreme Court recognised transgenders as the third gender. A few months later, the Madhya Pradesh government came up with a pilot project involving transgenders in the cleanliness campaign. The impact is now visible. In Naandini village, each of the 131 homes now has a toilet. In the remaining 11 villages, toilets have been built in 80 percent of the houses.  

Pawan Kumar Sonkar, Bhopal District coordinator, Swaccha Bharat Mission told NDTV, "Initially the transgenders were reluctant. But when we told them about the campaign and how important cleanliness is, they came on board."

Even the villagers were reluctant to talk to transgenders to begin with. But, Ms Singh's efforts paid off, especially with women. The villagers now credit her with pushing them to avail the benefits provided by the government to build toilets in homes.

"We were curious to know why they had come to the village. She used to take us for the meetings, told us about the benefits of toilets. We then build toilets. I thank Sanjana for encouraging us," says Lata Naagar, a villager.

Seeing the impact of the work done by the team, the administration is thinking of taking its help in 40 more villages.