At 23 years old, Nigsty is a young woman on an important mission. Hers is a straightforward but difficult challenge.
Nigsty wants to stop people from dying of preventable illnesses.
She wants every house in Adi Sibhat to have a toilet. She wants every child to be healthy and for no teenage girl to feel ashamed of her period.
She wants all these things, right now, and she won’t stop until she makes them happen. I have no doubt she’ll succeed.
Nigsty has a seriousness and intense presence which almost knocks you off balance. But suddenly, that intensity gives way to a disarmingly broad smile and eyes that twinkle when she laughs. It’s no surprise to me that Nigsty is welcomed as a sister by most of Adi Sibhat’s women. The children affectionately call her ‘open defecation free woman’.
Her job is, in many ways, similar to that of a health visitor in the UK. The biggest part of her role is visiting each home to give practical advice on childcare and cleanliness. She sometimes brings women together to share tips and techniques on good hygiene practises. Nigsty also works with the teenage girls at school teaching them about how to remain clean and healthy during their periods. The local school even has washing facilities especially for the girls.
Every house will soon have a toilet
On each visit to homes without latrines, Nigsty offers to teach them how to build one and prevent the spread of diseases. Until recently, Adi Sibhat was ‘an open defecation community’; few of the households had latrines and open, public areas outside each compound were used as toilets. For children especially, it was all too easy to come into contact with human waste and to become very sick as a result.
But now, thanks to Nigsty, 95 households have constructed a latrine. She’ll make sure the remaining 25 have installed theirs in the next couple of months, too. When she tells me ‘I’ll achieve my goal. Then I’ll move on to other villages’, I don’t doubt her, but I still ask what she’ll do if a family doesn’t agree to build a latrine. She fixes me with her most serious gaze and simply says ‘they will’ – then breaks into another of her wide, bright, twinkly-eyed smiles.
Adi Sibhat is special to Nigsty
Adi Sibhat is a community close to her heart. She grew up in the neighbouring village a 20 minute walk away. During the dry season her village’s water source would dry up very quickly, so as an eight year old girl she was forced to walk to Adi Sibhat and ask to share their water source. These regular visits to the village have made her many friends and she knows every single person by name.
Perhaps that’s why she’s so determined to succeed here.
We go on a house call
In the film at the top of this post we follow Nigsty on a house call. She inspects the latrine, and shows the family how to properly clean their jerry cans to prevent the spread of disease.
I hope to show you more of Nigsty’s work soon and share an update on her mission to give each family a toilet.