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13-year-old Pradeep and his 'dabba dol' gang are on a mission to make his village open-defecation free

Think Change India
12th May 2016
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The future of India is in the hands of her children. Taking the initiative to bring a stop to open defecation is 13-year-old Pradeep Mewada and his gang “dabba dol”. In the small village of Raipur Nayakheda village, Sehore District, Madhya Pradesh, a group of children is forcing adults to address the problem of poor sanitation.

Image: (L-R) India Today ; Neeraj Jain
Image: (L-R) India Today ; Neeraj Jain

In a report by Scroll, Pradeep, a class 8 student, has taken the teachings of a NGO workers seriously. Pradeep was educated on maintaining sanitation and stopping the spread of communicable diseases. Pradeep and his “gang” wake up at the crack of dawn to accost those going out to defecate in the open. They spill the water in the bottles or vessels the villagers carry with them, so that they abandon the idea since they cannot wash up afterwards – hence the name “dabba dol”.

Pradeep attended a community-led total sanitation programme in his village, after which he decided to spread the message. He formed a group of ten children, who went around with whistles, he said. People fought with and abused them, but Pradeep says they were determined and continued with their mission.

India tops the list of countries where open defecation is widely practised. According to the World Health Organisation, “India with 626 million people who practice open defecation, has more than twice the number of the next 18 countries combined.” India’s sanitation levels are worse than those of Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and all other lesser developed countries of the subcontinent.

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