Article on Mamamia, July 2014.
Silence is not something you come across often in India. But there we were, in the middle of a rural area in the country’s north, where it was dark, silent and still. The workers had come in from the fields, the cows had been brought in and milked, and there was a lull while families stopped and took a deep breath.
I was at a small village in the state of Bihar, one of the poorest states of northern India, working with Opportunity International Australia. As the fog set in, we huddled into a van to take the potholed roads back to the town of Buxar for the night. We weren’t even two minutes down the road when a woman’s silhouette appeared from nowhere.
The driver slowed right down, and we stared back into the face of a lone woman, standing motionless by the edge of the road with a small tin bowl in her hands. Another hundred metres down the road, another woman appeared. And another. And another.
We were interrupting the silent, private moment that nearly one billion people around the world experience every day: open defecation.
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