In a day

This month is highlighting a few of the stories we love. You might consider Manjula’s morning routine — first out of bed, get dressed, do some chores, wake the kids, give them baths, make breakfast, off to school and work — as pretty standard. But in a home without water or a toilet, Manjula’s routine was anything but.

Every morning, long before dawn, Manjula would start by wandering into a field to find the most private place she could to relieve herself. Then she spent the next few hours sourcing water and carrying jugs of it back to the house over multiple trips. Between water trips she would light a fire so the children could have a warm bath. Finishing her last water trip, she would start a kettle for coffee and see her husband off to his job as a truck driver. Then it was time to send her children out to the same field for defecation, before they headed to school. Finally, after being awake for more than five hours, Manjula could begin her day at work in the market, selling incense, candles and flowers.

field Manjula's husband points toward the field where the family would often relieve themselves.

Hoping there was more to life than this, Manjula jumped at the news of WaterCredit loans being offered by in her community. She shared the program with her husband and together they decided to take out a loan to get their own water connection and toilet.

manjula Manjula welcomes visitors to her shop.

Now, her days look very different. The family has a safe, private toilet and access to water in their home. With the convenience of both, Manjula doesn’t have to come to work exhausted. She can open her shop sooner, and is now able to catch customers on their way to morning worship at the nearby temple. More time at the market has helped increase the family’s income so much, they are saving money to fund the children’s educations. Majula has always hoped to see her children graduate school, having only completed to 5th grade herself. Now that her family has access to safe water and a toilet at home, this hope can be a reality.

This story was made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Swiss Re Foundation.

Capital: New Delhi
Population of 1.2 billion
77 million lack access to safe water
769 million lack access to improved sanitation
59% of the total population lives on less than US$2 per day