Sagheera brought change in her village

Sagheera Bibi, 43, with her children in the village of Buland Shah Wala, Union Council, Jhalarain, District Muzaffargarh, Province Punjab, Pakistan, April 2018.
Image: WaterAid/ Sibtain Haider

Sagheera Bibi, a mother of seven, worked with WaterAid as a Community Resource Person for a year to end open defecation in her village. She continued working hard in spite of the difficulties and managed to persuade the whole village, which hardly had ten washrooms before, to have washrooms in every household. As the village got declared open defecation free, a water pump with clean water was installed in the village as a reward.


“I worked for hygiene and cleanliness in the village, to keep people safe from human excreta, to keep the environment clean, to maintain contact with people and to have everyone construct washrooms so that every household in the village had a washroom. So that everyone is safe from germs and diseases.


I used to try to persuade people to construct washrooms. They used to say you keep on telling us daily to construct latrines, but we do not have the money to do so. And I used to say you should start saving because having a washroom is very important; you should keep your dignity saved. It will save you from a lot of diseases and germs, from hepatitis etc. When there are no diseases, you will save yourself money (because you don’t have to go to the doctor) and hence it will elevate your economic condition. So, they finally agreed.


People now say to me you have done good work; you have helped us save our dignity and make our lives easier. They say we would not have constructed any had you not kept pushing us for it. You kept on telling us again and again, so we ultimately did. Some of us borrowed money, some sold their belongings, some used their savings, some even used the money they had kept for daughters’ dowry to build washrooms.”


 The Water Effect exhibition at the HLPF, UN New York, July 2018
The Water Effect exhibition at the HLPF, UN New York, July 2018

Sagheera's photo and story were exhibited at the High-Level Political Forum Meeting at the United Nations HQ in New York along with photos from other countries. The photos were beautifully embroided by an artist, Victoria Villasana, to add an artistic feel.