You might think that Ghandi stopped the Caste system in all of India, but there are still some places in the country that haven’t been, as Rikki puts it, “un-classed”. In these places, a lot of people marry within their Caste, and your social ranking still affects life. In one of these villages, there was a bull who was chasing a boy. He was about to be killed by it, but no one would help him because he was an untouchable, the lowest Caste.
The Untouchables were the toilet cleaners, who came to pick up the night waste. Nobody wanted to touch them because they were all germy and dirty. They weren’t allowed to go to school, shop at stores with other Castes, or even have any other jobs. The Untouchables had no opportunities, their children had no opportunities, and their children’s children don’t have any opportunities.
Bindeshwar Pathak, the guy who started the Toilet Museum, noticed this. Actually, he witnessed the incident with the bull. It affected him so greatly that he decided to continue Ghandi’s work by changing the fact that Untouchables were, well, untouchable.. His mission was to get rid of the Untouchable’s job, disposing of the waste, so that they would be free to do other things. Through his social services agency Sulabh International, he brings sanitary health facilities to both villages and rural areas. He created the two-ditch compost toilet system. He started schools, clinics and helped people find jobs. Now that the Untouchables could be freed from their jobs of waste handlers, hopefully they could be freed from the other injustices of their lives as well.
Rikki: The other part of the museum is all about making use of people’s “toxic waste”. The museum has built a public toilet. This is not just a one stall port-a-potty, but a public bathroom extravaganza, mens side, women’s side even showers and laundry areas. They convert the public toxic waste into energy and fertilizer. In another part of the museum, there was a working kitchen and all the appliances were using the energy converted from the toxic waste. Outside they powered lights, too, all powered by public bathrooms. The museum workers were also purifying urine to use to water the garden! I was so excited to see it. I don’t know why, it was just so cool! Check the museum out in India, http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org/
There was also a very informative section in the museum about the history of toilets. Did you know that the first toilets were found in ancient India? We had so much fun at the toilet museum. It was the perfect, slightly ironic end to our wonderful time in India. If you’re planning on visiting New Delhi soon, make sure you stop by for a bathroom break!