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Ram Bitoli first noticed she was losing her sight when the sun turned red. Without access to health care, she quickly lost her vision altogether.

Until now, her family and neighbours have been her lifeline, helping her regain some of the dignity she felt she lost nine years ago.

Ram moved to Rahki Mandi in India with her husband and children. She lost her sight not long after they arrived.

At first, her husband Nanhe Lal would care for her, helping her clean and doing the cooking. But two years ago he passed away. Ram still misses him. "I often cry for my husband" she says.

Jason Bradbury
Ram with her son Sanju, who has become her lifeline.

Now completely dependent on her son Sanju, her other family members and neighbours, Ram must ask every time she needs to go to the toilet.

Friends and family accompany her to the nearby railway line. But if there isn’t time, she has to go in the open space outside her home where people can see her.

Sometimes she avoids eating and drinking during the day so that she doesn’t have to go.

Ram is so grateful for the care her children offer, describing them as her “lifeline and comfort" and her “golden children”.

22-year-old son Sanju recently left his job to help look after his mother. With the support of our local partners in Rakhi Mandi, Sanju is building her a toilet at home, so she won’t have to rely on others so much for her most basic needs.

Ram can’t wait to have more independence.

"Once this toilet is built, all my pain will be gone!” she says. "The future is bright!"

Across the tracks

Rakhi Mandi, where Ram lives, is a community where WaterAid is working as part of the HSBC Water Programme.

Watch our award-winning film Across the Tracks about another resident, Radha Verma, who, like Sanju, worked to find a solution to her family's sanitation problems: