A tête-à-tête with the Toilet Guy!

09 March 2011

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At Pardada Pardadi, Mr. Ron Fuchs’ name is synonymous with that of a toilet’s. You think of a toilet, you think of Ron, and when you think of Ron, you immediately think of a toilet.

Ron makes sure his commitment brings him to Anoopshahr from Baltimore, USA at least once every year. Before he took off his flight back to the US on March 3, he completed the inspection and jump started the construction of a community toilet in one of the most marginalized communities in Anoopshahr. There is so much that a PPES toilet is connected to: Health and Hygiene, Employment, the cause of a Green Environment, and much much more. And, it’s not just in the mind anymore, it’s in the process where people are teaming up in innovative ways and bringing in great IDEAS! We’re sure you have something too, get in touch with us on info@pardadapardadi.org

A tête-à-tête with Mr. Ron Fuchs as we know him

81 toilets in 12 villages in one year. How do you see
this outcome/achievement?

It’s a good start. I would like to have at least one toilet built in every village that sends girls to PPES. The idea is to set an example, to show what can be done with a little effort.

Why and how did you think of gifting a toilet to the families in villages? There are open fields where people poop lavishly.

The idea originated during a visit to China. China has made great strides in both rural and urban sanitation. I originally suggested a community toilet for Sam’s village, Bichola, but Sam thought we should try individual toilets first. We developed a model based on World Bank experience with slight modification for the Indian culture and environment. A toilet is an alternative to the open fields which provides privacy, safety and sanitization not available in a field.

Do you think the concept of hygiene standard is overblown to suit the western standards? Is a toilet all about a matter of accessibility?

I believe that health and hygiene standards are universal, not Western or Eastern. Dignity, privacy, safety and health don’t recognize political or cultural divides.Our toilets are the “squat pan”type, very foreign to Westerners, but just if not more functional.

What is the value of a toilet in your life?

In life there are certain basic needs, the most basic being food, clothing and shelter. Shelter is more than a roof over your head. A toilet to me is in that basic need category, though once acquired; it’s certainly taken for granted.

Can you recall a particular incident or a story when you felt ‘why don’t we have something as basic as a toilet in Anoopshahr?

Yea, on my first visit to Anoopshahar, jet lag had me awake at 5:00 AM so I went for a walk and initially could not figure out why there were women alone in the fields at that hour. That’s when the China experience gave me the idea.

Could you share some of the setbacks, especially the ones that made you frown?

I had hoped to train a local team to build our model toilet and be available for private engagement. So far we haven’t been able to make that work. I still have difficulty with the Indian male who has no interest in working but will sit around a work site all day and offer advice. I am also frustrated by the large number of village kids who should be in school but are not.

Can we put your story simply as’ I want to construct toilets, and I am going to Anoopshahr?’

No, it’s a story that begins with an inspiration from seeing hundreds of girls at school, looking you in the eye and saying, “Good morning Sir.” The story continues with Sam willing to try out an idea if he thinks it will benefit his India. I just had the luck to be in the right place at the right time.

Where do you and the toilet project go from here?

Back to the first idea, ‘Community toilets’. More “bang for the buck”. One seat in a community toilet can be used by a hundred or so customers ever day, verses the 5-10 family members who will use an individual family toilet. In the smaller villages we will continue with the original model. Me, I love India and just about everything about it, so I’ll be using the “toilet project” as an excuse to return again and again.

Giving back always has a future

10 February 2011

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How often are we reminded of the fact that we are better placed than others..and some others are better placed than us?

This is the real story of a man Mr. Jatinder Nath Kapur whose passion to do something for the people in need has been intact even after his death in 2009. Rare isn’t it?? Or should we say mysterious??Well, not really.

Ms. Parul Kapur Hinzen, who is the daughter of Mr. Jatinder Kapur, donated US $ 11,001 to Pardada Pardadi on November 2010. This donation is in the name of her father for building a classroom in the new school for 200 girls from most marginalized and discriminated against communities across Anoopshahr. The classroom will have a plaque in the name of Mr. Kapur. The idea is to have not just the classroom but his thought transcend through the years and forever.

Clearly, philanthropy is not an art that needs to be honed with a kind heart. Who would say that I have not so kind a heart?? All of us do.

Mr. Kapur has a tale to tell. He was born in Lahore in 1933. This was the pre independence time in India. He began his career with the Burmah Oil Company in Assam. He immigrated to the US in 1969 with his wife and two children, and was a senior financial manager with Richardson-Vicks, a consumer products company, in Wilton, Connecticut.

Though Jatinder Kapur lived in Wilton for 35 years, he never lost his strong attachment to India. After his retirement, he enjoyed spending his winters in New Delhi and playing the course at the Delhi Golf Club. He also made a special effort to help the domestic workers in his home in Delhi by educating their children. Although the value of education was not always trickled down to these families, Mr. Kapur wanted to ensure that even those children who dropped out of school could advance. Thus, he paid for their vocational training, such as sending one boy to driving school to learn a marketable skill.

That can conclude that charity may not begin at home but at heart. Isn’t it? And Mr. Kapur had one of gold.

So, let our hearts do something special today!

The PPES' Wedding Diary!!

12 January 2011

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So what comes to our minds when we think of an Indian wedding? Marigold garlands, the bride’s wedding trousseau in the color vermilion, the groom riding a horse carriage, loud Bollywood music…. and sacred revolutions around the fire to name a few.

This and more is all that attracted Sarah and Lorenzo to have an Indian wedding at the PPES on 12 Nov 2010. What started it off was both Sarah and Lorenzo’s commitment and dedication to the PPES work. Based in the UK, the couple has been volunteering with PPES since 2009. Sarah works with the non-profit iPartner India and Lorenzo works in DNV as a management consultant. The couple first had a Christian wedding in Knokke (Belgium) on Nov 6.

Eager to share their happiest day with the PPES, they decided on putting up an Indian wedding at the PPES.PPES’ old time volunteer Mr. Krishan Kumar Mehra and his wife Mrs. Rekha Mehra played the part of groom’s parents on the day. The holy ‘Kanyadaan’ (where the bride’s parents commit to giving their daughter to the groom) was acted on by Sam (Founder President of PPES) and volunteer Judith Hunger on Sarah’s part. The wedding hosted the 1100 PPES students and its staff who played every bit of a loud Indian guest. And, where the brouhaha seemed a little fazed off to that of a typical Indian wedding’s, the local band with its drum and trumpet followed in.

Moments like these, take what PPES means for its friends to another level altogether. Sarah and Lorenzo’s was not just any ordinary Indian wedding but one that celebrated every small and big moment of joy with the PPES girls. The wedding was a show of love for PPES- all the way from the PPES embroidered return gifts that were presented to the wedding guests by the couple, to a donation of 7000 GPB towards the PPES scholarship fund that the couple raised by requesting their wedding guests to gifting a donation on PPES’ name. They are also adding on 2000 GPB to the amount as a personal donation.

If one talks of ‘wedding for a cause’, Sarah and Lorenzo’s would remain the epitome of it all.PPES has stashed away the lovely moments of the day forever in its memory. Here’s wishing a happy married life to both Sarah and Lorenzo.