Residents of Park Town slum, Chennai face poor living conditions. This area is populated to the brink. The one-room dwellings had to be used as a living room, study room and for all domestic purposes like cooking, sleeping and cleaning vessels. Most of the dwellings do not have water and drainage facilities. Even though sanitation blocks are available, it is commonly noticed that children defecate in the open. Garbages are strewn along the pathway. Garbage disposal enjoys the great attention of the Chennai City Corporation. It is an equally important health issue, in as much as sanitation or dwelling conditions, if not greater. It is a phenomenon that requires greater attention from the slum perspective.
Madras Social Service Society (MSSS), as a responsible social organisation is associating with Caritas India – Earth Day Network steered “ Great Global Clean up campaign”. By effectively engaging multi-stakeholders in “The Great Community clean Up”, MSSS is becoming a proactive organisation in conscientising the general public especially the slum inhabitants to take action as stewards of the environment.
On 27th April, 2019, MSSS organized the much-co-ordinated Community Cleaning Campaign at Park Town. It was led by Caritas India facilitated Urban DRR Project Co-ordinator, Raj Bharath with the support of 28 youth volunteers consisting of 22 girls and 6 boys. 5 member MSSS team and 30 SHG leaders partook in the campaign. Local community members and children felt happy to be part of this initiative.
Zonal Corporation Officer, Ms.Bharathi who is supportive of this campaign not only participated but deputed 8 conservancy workers. The two-hour campaign that started at 9.30 AM covered 3 areas namely Indira Gandhi Nagar, Sathyavanimuthu Nagar, and Gandhi Nagar. The volunteers helped clear a distance of 600-meter stretch. They not only cleared garbage but raised awareness slogans highlighting the importance of sanitation, proper waste disposal, and environmental hygiene. They also distributed 1000 pamphlets. The volunteers were provided with hand gloves, caps, face masks and other cleaning materials.
The Director of MSSS, Rev.Dr.Patrick, I Joseph inaugurated this campaign in the presence of Dr.John Arokiaraj, Caritas India Manager for Tamil Nadu Operations. “ While positive hygiene behaviors are important for the reduction of disease transmission, the availability of sanitation infrastructure is also critical. When solving the problem of housing is a tricky issue in a slum, it is not an easy task to find an immediate solution to sanitation issue. It requires conscientization, constant campaigns, consensus-building, culture-shifting and designing end-user friendly measures” said Fr.Patrick.
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