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An ad film of a different kind

A scenic rural location is chosen. A film team comes in from the city with their equipment. They shoot an ad film. They pack up. They go back to the city. But this is not all that happened.

brand stories Updated: Mar 30, 2018 11:53 IST
HUL,Swachh Bharat,Ramkula 11
(HUL)

With the majestic Narmada flowing on one side, Ramkula is an idyllic village near Barwah in Khargone district, Madhya Pradesh, very similar to lakhs of villages in India’s heartland. Ramkula would be the dream of any ad-film director who wants to capture rural India in all its glory: the scenery is picturesque and the typical slow village life of heartland India can be found in all the activities that the villagers undertake.

However, the tranquil scenery is not the only feature that Ramkula shares with other villages in India’s heartland. Ramkula exhibits symptoms of an issue that is typical of most parts in rural India – the lack of hygiene and sanitation. Many steps have been taken at Ramkula towards improving the infrastructure for sanitation thanks to the launch of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Toilets have been built in houses and facilities like hand wash stations and separate toilets for boys and girls in schools are now present in Ramkula and nearby villages. But the infrastructure alone has not resulted in marked improvements pertaining to hygiene and sanitation conditions.

At Ramkula, like the rest of the country, the attempt at creating a sanitation revolution had one missing element—behavioural change. Ramkula’s children still sometimes defecated in the open and didn’t understand the need to wash hands before eating. Their mothers, who believed that water from the local source was potable, chose not to boil or filter it before letting the children drink it. This was the situation when Ramkula was chosen to be the location of Hindustan Unilever’s Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat campaign film.

The Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat team got into action as soon as the film crew arrived at Ramkula. The team visited the four primary schools at Ramkula and the nearby villages of Lakhanpura and Barwaha, and more than 600 children were taught the meaning of ‘Haath, Munh, Bum’—the three hygiene habits of washing hands with soap at five critical occasions, drinking water from a water filter or after boiling, and using a toilet and keeping it clean. Along with the children, their parents were educated about the need to follow these habits. The children as well as the adults have pledged to stick to these practices in their daily lives.

It doesn’t end with the social transformation in hygiene and sanitation habits alone. The film crew came in to Ramkula only with their equipment and crew members but no actors. The kids who are members of Ramkula 11, Lalli’s cricket team featured in Hindustan Unilever’s Swachh Aadat Swachh Bharat ad film, are from Ramkula itself! Yes, that’s right—the perfect show they put up completely belies the fact that they are not professional actors.

To watch the Ramkula 11 in action and to know more about HUL’s WASH interventions, log on here.

First Published: Mar 23, 2018 10:56 IST