Bhavna Hariharan

What do I care about?
  • Description

    When was the last time you thought about what happens once you flush the toilet? When was the last time you considered a toilet as important part of your life?

    “When was the last time when you thought about what happens when you flush a toilet? When was the last time you regarded a toilet as an important part of your life? For a minute imagine that you have to relieve yourself and there is no toilet in the close facility. This is the reality faced by close to 2.6 billion people in the world today.”

    “Toilets are enablers of continued education.”

    “Ask yourself what you care about. And irrespective of how big, hairy the problem might be, you will find something that you can do which will be meaningful and have an impact.”

    ”When was the last time you thought about what happens once you flush a toilet? When was the last time when you regarded toilet as an important part of your life? Now for a minute imagine that you have to relief yourself and there isn't a toilet in the close vicinity. This is the reality faced by close to 2.6 billion people in the world today. They are forced to defecate in the open, exposing themselves to extremely unhygienic conditions, extreme health risks and also sometimes risks posed on safety. 1.1 children dies each year due to diarrheal diseases, sometimes simply because their caregivers don't wash their hands very well. Studies have shown that girls as young as 8 years old in Sub-Saharan Africa actually fear toilets, because they thing they get raped there. Studies have also shown that girls once they hit puberty drop out of school, because their school don't have dedicated toilettes. What these facts tell us is that toilets are not merely pans and pots with a flush mechanism, but they are in fact enablers of continued education. They can be places of safety or of dignity, they can ensure good health, they can educate, they can create a wealth of natural, organic compost and manure. Now for a moment imagine including the users of these toilets in this imagination. What if we could create solutions together with them, building on the best of technical know-how and also including the local knowledge of the political, the socio-economic, the cultural practices that they have, creating solutions that are in fact relevant, timely, and sustainable for the community in the long term. I was able to make this possibility a reality by asking myself one question: what do I care about? That resulted in a career of research and teaching people how to pursue their passions(...)”

     

     

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