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Toilet charity names Haryana village after Donald Trump

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-06-2017 AP

Marora (Haryana): Toilet charity Sulabh International is leading an effort to rename a tiny, north Indian village after US President Donald Trump, saying the gesture is meant to honour relations with the US and draw support for better sanitation in India.

The new name, “Trump Sulabh Village”, is not official, and so will not appear on maps.

Many of the 400 villagers said they had no idea who Trump is. But they are delighted that their village elders agreed to the promotional gimmick because it also means they will receive free toilets in each of the village’s 60 or so mud-built houses. None of the funding for the new toilets is coming from Trump or the US.

“I don’t understand why they couldn’t name it after our own prime minister,” said construction worker Sajid Hussain. Still, he’s happy for the toilet-building initiative and hopes it is followed with funding for education, electricity and other improvements.

For an inauguration attended by media on Friday, organizers coached villagers to shout “Donald Trump zindabad”. The ceremony was staged just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Washington for a sit-down with Trump.

The charity’s founder, Bindeshwar Pathak, acknowledged that naming the village after Trump was a stunt aimed at drawing more attention—and hopefully funding—for their efforts to improve sanitation across India.

“Trump is the president of the leading nation in the world, so that’s why I chose him,” he said.

The fact that there are few toilets in the dusty village of Marora, about 70km north of New Delhi, is not unusual. More than 60% of India’s 1.3 billion people still defecate in the open, and dysentery kills hundreds of millions of children every year.

“Women in the village in particular suffer without toilets,” said Poonam, a housewife. She hopes the campaign to rename the village draws attention to the dangers women face in having to venture into forests for bathroom privacy, putting them at risk of sexual assault. Some, like Poonam, are also forced to drop out of school once they begin menstruating.

The charity aims to build toilets in about 600,000 more villages across the country.

Meanwhile, Marora is hoping to become the first village in Haryana to eliminate open defecation altogether.

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