Media Library / Feature
How a toilet can make a difference in a family’s life
My name is Vijayarahavan, I am 37 years old and I live in Karadiyanaru. Like many others in Sri Lanka’s Eastern and Northern Province, my family and I lost not only our house and livelihoods during the violent conflict in 2006, but also many relatives, neighbours and friends. Previously, I was a businessman running a small shop and earning life for me and my family by selling all kinds of food and household items.
At the time of the conflict, I suffered a severe motorcycle accident and I was admitted to the public hospital in Batticaloa, where I was treated for over one year. As a result of the accident, I became paralyzed and could not move any part of my body below the hip. I was no longer able to run my business. My father spent all of his pension funds to look after myself and the family.
Unfortunately, my father passed away in the year 2009. That’s when things started to get worse in our lives. There was no one left to look after my mother, my wife and my three children. My mother suffers from a heart condition, but she still had to take care of the entire family, including my medical expenses.
Several years have passed since the accident. I eventually received help and a new home for my family. Unfortunately, however, my house was built without a toilet, and my entire family used a nearby bush to relieve themselves.
Since I had registered with the local authorities, a community-based organisation in our village told their partners, Malteser International, about my situation. Malteser International’s team visited our house during a field assessment in January 2010. After the visit, Malteser International decided to provide our family with a household toilet as part of a project supported by UNICEF.
Malteser International’s programme coordinator, Walter Berier, visited us after the toilet had been built. We told him we were all very happy with the new toilet. My wife said spontaneously that our lives have improved considerably, and that the grown-up children no longer had to use the bushes, which was a source of embarrassment to our family.
For me, the new toilet is a great relief because it makes it easier for my family to take care of me. Since I cannot move, it used to be a huge inconvenience for my family to dispose of my urine and faeces. Now, my family can empty the contents of my bedpan directly into the toilet. I am very grateful to Malteser International for their support!