A former manual scavenger from Rajasthan who transformed her life with the help of sanitation charity Sulabh International has been invited to speak at a UK conference this week.
Usha Chaumar will arrive in the UK to address the Annual Conference of the British Association of South Asian Studies (BASAS) at University of Portsmouth on the subject of 'Sanitation and Women's Rights in India' on Wednesday.
"It's fulfilment of a distant dream to visit the United Kingdom to attend such an important conference," the 42-year-old said as she prepared to board her Air India flight from New Delhi.
Chaumar, from Hazurigate Harijan colony in Alwar town, will make her longest ever journey from India when she interacts with top British academics and policy-makers at the BASAS conference.
BASAS is among the world's leading societies for the study of South Asia and committed to supporting research on the region.
"Chaumar was engaged in manually cleaning of human waste and treated as an 'untouchable' till she was rescued and rehabilitated by Sulabh International. Now she is working as a motivator to eradicate the age old practice of manual scavenging," a Sulabh International spokesperson said.
Chaumar was married off at 10 and forced into the only means of livelihood her family has known for generations.
Sulabh International, which runs public toilets in India, helped transform her life through programmes that have taught hundreds of cleaners other livelihoods such as embroidery and making noodles and pickles.
Sulabh has been running vocational training centres across the country to help liberated manual scavengers find new jobs and start their own businesses.
Founded by Bindeshwar Pathak, Sulabh International is well-known for its work towards ending the practice of untouchability by liberating manual scavengers across the country and bringing them into the national mainstream.
"In two towns in Rajasthan – Alwar and Tonk – Sulabh has spearheaded a campaign in which manual scavengers have moved to becoming small-time vendors and now are even invited to Brahmin households for tea and for weddings. They now make pickles, papads and in some cases even do facials in Brahmin houses," a Sulabh statement said.
Source : http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/former-manual-scavenger-from-rajasthan-invited-to-uk-conclave-115040600758_1.html