Meet the man who climbed the tallest mountain of Africa because he wanted to build 100 toilets for Indian school girls!
The Indo-Canadian businessman was so passionate about his goal of stopping children from defecating in the open and germs spreading that that in order to raise awareness for his campaign, he decided to trek up Africa's highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro!
It’s really rare to come across someone who is so selfless and knows just how to perfectly combine passion with the determination to achieve their goals and change the world! And 45-year old Girish Agarwal has managed to do just that! The Indo-Canadian businessman was so passionate about his goal of stopping children from defecating in the open and germs spreading that that in order to raise awareness for his campaign, he decided to trek up Africa’s highest mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro! Girish Agarwal is a businessman and has set up his own non-profit organisation ‘Summit for Dignity’. As the name suggests, through his NGO, he scales mountains or summits to raise awareness about his cause of fighting open defecation and the resultant spread of germs in India and other developing nations.
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Currently, through his first summit climb, Girish is expecting to raise $250000 (roughly Rs 1.67 crore) to support his dream of building toilets in Indian schools. However, he is not running off on a wild chase. In order to achieve his dreams, he has also partnered with Aga Khan Development Network, a global charity that has helped provide sanitation facilities to millions of small rural areas in multiple countries. Girish himself comes from a poor background and knows the difficulties of surviving in bare and basic surroundings. Further, while he is today considered to be one of the top 25 immigrants of Canada, winning Investors Group’s Gold Medalist awards for his selfless contribution to improving the community, life for him has not been a cakewalk.
Girish lost both his sons to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) within days of their birth and since then, it has been his personal goal to prevent any deaths or diseases caused by open defecation and the resultant germ spread. Girish has also tied up with the Indian government to help him in providing sanitation facilities to the rural and impoverished regions of India. His dream is to build 100,000 household toilets, 528 school toilet blocks and 26 community toilet complexes – benefiting over 7 lakh Indians and arresting the spread of germs in many regions.
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But why Mt Kilimanjaro? While talking to Times of India, Girish revealed his motive behind scaling this African mountain: “It has a very unique quality that called out to me. Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing single mountain in the world. So I felt Mount Kilimanjaro has its unique dignity that could not be compared to other peaks in the world. Just like the mountain, I am now attempting to protect the dignity of Indian children, more so girls, in my own way.” According to the description on the Facebook Page of Summit for Dignity, “More than 595 million people in India, including millions of children, do not have access to proper toilets. They defecate in the open. This is one of the greatest threats to the health of children and results in the highest number of diarrhea-related deaths in the world. It is the single reason why many young females will not attend school. There is no dignity.”
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So far, the businessman has managed to raise $65000 but he is still far from his goal. However, kudos to his efforts and his grit in not caring about himself and putting the community first. With such selfless people, India will soon be germ free. The Indian government is also advocating the importance of proper sanitation facilities and has begun to educate the masses through TV advertisements. By roping in celebrities, they are trying to change the face of India’s sanitation facilities. Looks like things are soon set to change. And till the time Girish’s efforts bear fruits, keep watching those “Haath Muh Bum” adverts on TV and keep getting inspired!
Image Credits: Summit for Dignity Facebook Page
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