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Meet The One-Woman Army Whose Toilet Mission Changed Lives Of Kerala's Tribals

The job of a forest officer is not only challenging but is also loaded with an endless number of demanding responsibilities. This includes looking after the management of forest range, keeping a watch over movement of poachers and wild animals, and traveling through the dense forest every day. All this makes the life and work of a forest officer difficult. Well, somehow this complexity never stopped P G Sudha to do something different. She is posted as the beat officer in Kuttampuzha forest range in Ernakulam district of Kerala.  Her toilet mission to make Kerala open defecation-free has changed the lives of tribals in the state. She's truly a one-woman army. The no-fuss woman says, “I believe in being sincere about my work. There is so much open space available, so the people have never felt the need for a toilet.”  Also, people were not aware of the importance of using toilets until recent years."  Here is the inspiring story of Sudha and what she has done for tribals. Recommended story: Inspiring story of a lady from corporate office to organic farms

Meet 49-year old P G Sudha, a forest beat forest officer from Kerala.

Sudha has faced a lot of adversities in her life to become a forest officer. She lost her husband 27 years ago. As a result, she faced all the odds in her life single-handedly.

Sudha travels 16 kms every day through the dense forests of Kerala facing beasts and unpredictable weather.

It takes her three hours to reach the tribal colonies spread inside the forest. The tribal hamlets are located in remote, dense forest areas. 

Sudha has played a crucial role in making Kerala open defecation- free.

And this is what makes her a tough and extraordinary woman officer.

She has facilitated construction of 497 toilets in forests's tribal areas.

The task was not easy but she has made it possible within a year. 

This is one such toilet that she got completed under her supervision.

Talking about the obstacles, Sudha said, “Though people here can afford a toilet, the colonies had none. That is because they are comfortable with open defecation. Secondly, construction of toilets is not an easy task, since bringing building materials from outside is a herculean task.”Source: The Indian Express

Not only that, Sudha is approached by tribals for lot many things.

From handling complaints about the animal creating havoc to water connection issues to any sanitation trouble, everything gets fixed by Sudha.

Kerala is now second ODF (Open Defecation Free) state in the country.

The credit goes to Sudha, for sure.

Sudha narrated her experience while accomplishing her toilet mission.

"It was a daunting task,” she says. “A sum of Rs 15,400 had been set aside for constructing one toilet. But taking one load of rock pieces cost us Rs 3,000-4,000 even though the market price was only Rs 800.”Source: The Indian Express

Hard work pays off and the proof is Sudha's achievements.

Sudha won Chief Minister's Open Defecation Free campaign award on November 1, 2016. She received an award for best forest range officer the same year (2016). Also, President Pranab Mukherjee presented Nari Shakti Puraskar to her on International Women's Day this year.