In a village in Western India lives a woman named Darshana. Darshana and her husband have a humble home on a small piece of land. Together with their two children, the family works hard to make enough to pay for their living expenses however, they often struggle to accomplish this. Darshana and her husband not only work in agriculture, but they also work as day laborers doing odd jobs such as construction or cleaning. This extra work helps them supplement what they are unable to earn farming.

In total the family make 55,000 INR annually. This is about $770—barely enough to meet the family’s basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter—and not enough to pay for the construction of a much-needed toilet. Darshana has longed for a toilet, knowing it could help prevent the sickness and safety issues she and her daughter experience regularly. Without a toilet at home, they relieve themselves in the open, usually in a nearby field where others in their village practice the same behavior.


Darshana and her daughter stand at the doorway of their new bathroom.

Darshana wanted to provide her young daughter a bathroom, a place to go and a place to bathe, safely. But, Darshana and her husband had no budget left to save for such things. Recently though, an opportunity presented itself, making what seemed like a far-off luxury, something the couple could actually attain. Darshana was introduced to Pragati Self Help Group. Self Help Groups (SHG) are common among lower-income communities like Darshana’s. They come together so share their communal and household needs—they work together as a group to improve their communities and to save for or fund their needs. The SHG was trained through the P.A.C.E. program designed by Water.org's partners at the Gap Foundation and the non-profit CARE. This program introduced Darshana to the option of financing her toilet and bathroom through a water and sanitation loan made possible by Water.org.

"It gives me joy and a sense of pride to have a sanitation facility of our own." Darshana

Following her meeting with the trainers of the P.A.C.E. program, Darshana took a loan of 20,000 INR from a local partner bank of Water.org. She and her husband used the funds to construct a bathroom with a toilet and sink for her family. With enthusiasm and gratitude Darshana explained, “It gives me joy and a sense of pride to have a sanitation facility of our own.”

Through affordable, monthly payments Darshana and her husband will pay off the loan. This is something within their budget and it immediately solves so many of the family’s concerns regarding health and safety. Small, affordable loans like Darshana’s are the result of something designed by Water.org to empower people in need with immediate access to life’s most necessary resources—safe water and toilets. To learn more about how financing can change the lives of millions in need go here.