When an elephant leads your car across a one kilometre bridge connecting land on either side of the Ganges, you know it’s going to be a special day.
On Monday 6 March 2017 Jagriti Foundation officially opened the first community toilet facility in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh.
Five female and four male toilets were constructed to support the health and wellbeing of the community, aligning with the government’s Swachh Bharat (Clean India) campaign, which aims to improve the country's sanitation standards.
A sea of magnificently coloured saris could be seen as the women of the village led the team from New Zealand to the official opening proceedings.
Hundreds of local men, women and children were present at the event with a widespread sense of excitement.
Community leaders opened the proceedings, encouraging the Ballia community to treasure the facility and “keep it as it is today”. One community representative shared how, “Hearts across the world have helped us to have this facility.”
Fox furthered this sentiment as she explained, “We come from many miles away, from a different culture, different languages and different life experiences, but today we are just people together, sharing our hearts and sharing our love.”
“Our heart for your community began through our friends Bikash and Maheshwari. We just asked simple questions – How can we help you? What would you like us to do to support your community if we can?”
“Today we are here to celebrate this new facility to support the healthcare education of the whole community. Today we are truly one people together. You, the community, gifted the land here; we just helped to build the building with an outstanding local construction team and now this community facility is for all of us together,” said Selena Fox, Jagriti Foundation Founder.
Local healthcare workers shared their support by wearing matching saris and, in alignment with the spirit of the proceedings, bars of soap were gifted to the people in attendance.
Jagriti Foundation began their community initiatives in Ballia by supporting the building of a bridge to unite two sides of the community and in 2015, Jagriti Academy Ballia opened, enabling the education of hundreds of first generation learners.
Stage two of Jagriti Academy Ballia is currently in development and will serve 500 children while also supporting the wider community as a meeting place for community groups and a facility for Jagriti Foundation initiatives.