Among Odisha’s lavish temples and industrial plants are many families, residing in both rural and urban settings, without access to safe water or toilets. Although the eastern Indian state is rich in culture, it is one of India’s poorest states. More than 60% of the population lives below the poverty line. Tirotama and her husband Sushil live in the Cuttack district of Odisha, where they live in a house they worked hard to build themselves. Complete with a thatched roof and mud floor, it took the couple about five years to construct, affording building materials as they earned money working or through approved loans.
Like most of their neighbors, Tirotama and Shushil moved into the house with no running water or toilet. But, having access to these things was a priority to Tirotama. She believes, “To me a good house means having a toilet and a water connection.” While she and Shushil could not afford a toilet or tap right away, the burden of such expenses were lifted after Tirotama learned about how they could take out a small loan to fund both through Water.org.
Shushil’s wages as a factory security guard are enough to cover the loan repayment, and he is happy his wife no longer has to physically strain herself carrying heavy water vessels. Now, Tirotama doesn’t have to walk long distances to get water, nor does she have to waste time waiting in line for hours to fill the vessels. Instead she can focus on her family and the home they worked so hard to establish.
The success of this story was made possibly by generous grants from the Caterpillar Foundation and PepsiCo Foundation.