Bhubaneswar: The Southbelt Crew, the transgender volunteers educating Mumbai drivers to buckle up the seat belts could be an eye opener for the entire nation, but their counterparts in the Temple City, here, are fighting open defecation in their own way as volunteers to drive the mission of Swachha Bhubaneswar, and proving their way to a massive success story.
The impact of the Southbelt Crew in the economic capital of India was such that their video in the costume of air crew talking about fastening seat belts for Mumbai drivers, had gone viral and once the nation talked about it as a major contribution of transgenders for a vital socio-civic cause.
Interestingly, a team of city transgenders have come forward to campaign against open defecation in the Smart District. The group of 31 transgenders also took out awareness rallies in Satyakali Behera Sahi Basti in Satyanagar area recently and created a wonderful impact to inspire others and making the area cleaner and safer for all.
Starting on June 1 they have now resolved to spread the campaign to other slums within the Bhubaneswar Town Centre District (BTCD) area and wipe out open defecation. Truly, the transgenders have become social change makers for the city and to transform the state capital clean and green.
It can be mentioned here that the Bhubaneswar Smart City Limited (BSCL) in association with Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation has taken up an effective strategy to end open defecation and has engaged Feedback Foundation to make all the 24 slums in the entire BTCD area Open Defecation Free (ODF). So far, six slums i.e. Kalinga Basti, Birsamunda I and II, Kathagola Basti, Rajkumar Basti and Timber Colony Basti have become ODF and this week two more are going to attain ODF status.
Swarna, a leading transgender said “we started vigorous campaign against open defecation since June 1 as we have realised that it has become the root cause of maximum water-borne diseases in the slums. Now through our activism many people have constructed new toilets and some have come forward and converted their open toilets to safe ones. Many are going to add safety tanks.’’
The group of 31 transgenders along with the Nirgrani Committee and child campaigners (Banar Sena) have taken up the campaign with such an intensity that the people practicing open defecation has taken notice of their deeds and decided not to do it again to make their environment clean and healthy.
Apart from going out to defecate the basic sanitation issues are arising out of the open outlets from toilets going directly to nearby drains. After the ODF campaign by the transgenders the slum residents have actually changed their thoughts and acted accordingly.
Payal, another transgender said “our song which had an impact over others with a meaning our slum is clean and lets us unite and say that we would do such a work that the name of our slum will be remembered by all in Odia helped a lot to garner support and people believed in us.’’
After listening to a triggering campaign on ODF in the last week of May, the volunteers and workers of Feedback Foundation did a micro triggering event at Satyakali Beherasahi Slum in Ward No. 34. “That micro triggering for the transgenders had quite an impact on them as they understood that how open defecation is affecting public health in slums. Then they are doing on their own and the rest is what we are seeing now,’’ narrated a volunteer, who took part in the local ODF triggering activity.
It can be mentioned here that the six ODF slums and those in the pipeline are from Bapuji Nagar, Sahid Nagar and Satyanagar areas.