Story Behind: exploring myself
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Health, wakes up with me every day and are part of my daily life. Every morning, I used to go toilet, wash my hands with soap and be fresh. Then after, I used to drink one glass of safe water and pray with god for my good health and prosperous life. It seems very simple and everyone is doing so but in case of different developing countries, still the word WASH is being complicated and ignored though it is simple and necessary. In previous years, I also used to think that water, sanitation and hygiene does not matter more in our life but when I visited Rukum district on 2009 to respond diarrhoea epidemic which had claimed life of around 300 people, I realized that WASH is very essential in human life. Though, that epidemic claimed many lives, that event help me to understand about importance of WASH and remains as a milestone for me.
It seems like yesterday, but it’s been almost five years that I have started my career in WASH sector. Now, I am working in an international non-governmental organization, a dream organization of mine since 2009. I got opportunity to know more about WASH as well as my strengths was enhanced while I worked in a NGO working in the sector of environmental health.
I was born in a rural village of Gorkha district, where I spent first 16 years of my life. During that period I had experienced several things; a village life, experience of being female child, hardship of different facilities and so on. From my childhood, I was always interested on teaching and sharing my knowledge with others but my father wanted me to be a doctor in future. When anyone asked me about my aim, then I used to say teacher, sometimes my father scolded me on answering like that. After securing first division in SLC exam from a government school of Amppipal Gorkha, I joined +2 in science stream as per the suggestions of my teachers and parents. We moved to Gorkha bazzar for my further study and started to live on rented house. That was another pioneer beginning of my life.
I was really unaware about the WASH up to 16 years of my life. During that period, I suffered with diarrhoea and typhoid many times but I was unaware about the real causes of those diseases. Regarding those disease, different people had different views, some said it’s due to cold, some said it’s due to non- reaped fruits.
Since 2010, I am promoting open defecation free movement professionally as well as personally. These days I can hold my poo upto three days and pee for a whole day if I don’t get clean toilet. Life is amazing, it changes with times. In my childhood, several times I had defecated in open place together with my brothers, sisters and friends too. We had a toilet (pit latrine) in our house but when we were in field for work and out of home we have to defecate in an open place like bush, field and near the river. There was no hesitation to do so because we don’t know the impacts of open defecation and everyone used to do that.
These days, I feel uncomfortable to drink water outside the home and my office. I am conscious about its quality and my health. In my childhood days, I used to drink water anywhere if that looks clean. When we were in field for grazing the goats, we used to drink water from small ponds with the help of leaf. Several times we drank water by removing frogs from those ponds. Sometimes we also drank muddy water after settling that. These days I am realizing, those were one of the main causes of bad health of several people at that time.
Since last 3 years, I am carrying hand sanitizer in my bag because I am afraid of not getting soap and water for hand-washing before eating. Though hand-washing with soap was seems common, I used to wash my hands mostly once a day or twice a day in my childhood. At that time, I commonly washed my hands with soap at morning after defecating and in evening after returning from school.
It has been almost 4 years that I became properly familiar with the word “menstrual hygiene.” I am involving in different awareness raising programme related to “menstrual hygiene” with my friends of youth network. Every adolescent girl has to face their menstruation after certain age of their life and I also experienced the same. I was afraid to menstruate due to the rituals because my friends were missing their classes at school. They were not allowed to stay at their home for the first time of their menstruation. In this matter I was lucky because I had my first menstruation during our one month long summer vacation due to which I didn’t miss any of my classes and also I don’t have to left my house for a week because my brother and father were not at home. At that time there was no toilets in our school and we have to use open place for urinating by making a horizontal line of several girls friend together and same in case of boys but there was one toilet for teachers near office room. During the menstruating period, my friends were unable to join me at school because there was no toilet. I was always afraid with that condition but in that case I found myself a very fortunate because I never left my classes due to my period. That was amazing; I experienced my menstruation for the first time when I was in class nine and then it stopped for two years, up to when we moved towards Gorkha bazzar, headquarter of the district, where we found less discrimination in this matter and also there was a toilet in my college.
After completion of my +2, I have got opportunity to come to Kathmandu, capital city of Nepal to join my bachelor degree. The day when I entered in Kathmandu was next step of my life. I did bachelor degree in public health (BPH) which helped me to increase my public speaking skill and also deepen my knowledge towards public health. First of all, my degree helped me to enter into the sector of health, then after my capacity and experiences draged me towards NGO and INGO working in the same field. These days, I am advocating for WASH including menstrual hygiene because it’s not only the job from where I can earn money, it’s my own story too and I want to make people free from those pathetic reality and more WASH associated diseases. In addition to that I still need to explore more learning from different part of the world in the field of health as well as WASH and want to share my knowledge and experiences too.
I am enjoying working in the sector of WASH by making health and behavior change as main stream. This is just beginning for me because it’s only five years that I have started my work in this sector. It means just I am starting to walk; this is not enough for me because I have to run in this sector and need to gain more knowledge and experiences. I believe on becoming “jack of all master of one” rather than “jack of all master of none”.