A daily wage labourer in Madurai has become the mascot of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Meena, the 37-year-old, has been working hard to make her municipality and neighbouring areas open defecation-free by constructing toilets. Meena has built over 3,000 toilets.

How it all started

Meena was first motivated to build a toilet at her own house two-and-a-half-years ago when the Thirumangalam municipality approached her. What started as constructing a toilet to refrain from open defecation became a life-long journey of sanitation for the financially-challenged woman.

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Building the first toilet

Meena first spoke to her relative Deivendran about the lack of funds to build a toilet. They joined hands for her to build a cost-effective toilet. Using the subsidy of Rs 8,000 given by the government, she eventually cemented a fully-functional toilet at home.

Municipality praised her work

Municipality staff, including engineer B Sakthivel, were all praise for Meena’s work.

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Sakthivel told TOI, “I asked Meena if she could construct similar toilets for her neighbours, and we were able to declare Thirumangalam open defecation-free last year under the Swachh Bharath Mission with her help.”

Becoming Swachh Bharat Agent 

Meena’s work led municipalities in the neighbouring districts to use her services. Till date, she has constructed over 3,000 toilets in Virudhunagar, Sivaganga, Karaikudi, Devakottai, Thirumangalam and Ramanathapuram municipalities. Meena earns about Rs 200 as margin for every toilet she builds. She heads a 22-member team which receives about Rs 500 to Rs 600 as profit each at the end of the day. Meena is happy with the income.

Survey

According to a survey conducted this year, there are about 100 houses in Thirumanglam which had got toilet services with Meena’s help. Now 30 houses have got toilets while work is underway for 70 others. “All this is possible because of my family, Deivendran’s family and masons who provided cheap labour for this endeavour. Constructing toilets for poor like us is soul satisfying though it is very hard labour,” Meena said.

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More power to you, Meena!

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