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Communications Officer at the United Nations University, UNU-MERIT writes: “For those of you who have not seen this PechaKucha presentation by Prof. Shyama, please take a few minutes to watch it… This is how I first heard the story behind the beautiful bus stop in Kameshwaram! 
Simple as A,B,C….Art for behavioural change!”

For the Golden Hearted Girl with the Unicorn and the Finnie*
There was once a nice girl with a unicorn,Her heart was as golden as a harvest time ear of corn,So when a finnie went to her,And asked,“Can you help us build a toilet my dear?”She replied:“Of course” in a voice that was crystal clear!
So she gathered her friends,“My birthday is coming, my dears,And if you love me,Give me not cake,Nor flowers,Nor gifts,But money to help build a toilet, For two fishermen families, Who will never have a toilet otherwise, I fear.”
Her friends who loved her,Worked hard to please her,Funds poured in to reassure her,Mr. Paranjothi ran to the fishermen,And the masons,And the painter,And the plumber,And all the finnies,“We must now work hard, for –We must not disappoint her”.
Dear Lady with the unicorn,And finnie,The toilets are fully made,To last decades and decades,The ladies need no longer be afraid,Their necessities no longer delayed,On your birthday the foundation was laid,On finnie’s birthday the fruits of your labour fully paid!Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
By I-am-not-a-poet-except-when-the-mood-makes-me

*Finnie refers to an active member of Friend In Need India!

Let’s give a big hand to the Kameshwaram Village Panchayat team and the FIN team there!!
I was waiting for Sueli to come and eat lunch in my office – I had a lot of Afghan pulao and palak paneer made by another friend, and I had offered to share. But, where was she? So I reached out to my telephone to see the latest on whatsapp (I must stop being so addicted – but it’s so difficult!)
WHAT! What was happening?
You know – we in FIN believe we can improve public hygiene by creating community pride in public spaces. But how? I decided to try building it through art. With wonderful cooperation from all FIN interns and members and the enthusiastic teachers and director of the Chinmaya Mission School in Nagapattinam – a wonder was created!
A bus stop was transformed by children into a work of art and it became the pride of the village! Minnal Kodi was the watchful guardian during the evenings when she went to give the space – a touch-up! The residents were proud of it! Outsiders came and admired it! In beautiful calligraphy – the public was requested to keep it clean.
In the early hours of this morning – Mr. Kanagasundaram, the village Panchayat Head (i.e. locally elected council) was going for an early morning errand on his bike – when he was stunned. On the walls of the beautiful bus stop – over the beautiful paintings of the children – were plastered the advertisement for the opening of a new shop in Kameshwaram selling groceries.
In India, especially in rural India, there are companies specialized in sending out men with posters – of political leaders, weddings, sales etc. at night. Under the cover of darkness, they just plaster the posters on everything and anything and everywhere and anywhere. As you can see in the photos – they plastered the shop ads even over the sign to the medical clinic.
Without a second thought, Mr. Kanagasundaram called Mr. Paranjothi – who came rushing to the site from his bed. And without bothering about the errand – Mr. Kanagasundaram called all Panchayat members and together they went to the shop.
“Sir, I don’t know who did it” said the shopkeeper.
“Which was the company you hired to do this? Who were the boys? Are they from Kameshwaram” asked the Panchayat.
“I don’t know Sir – my sister in law only arranged for us and she is out of town for 10 days” was the clever reply.
Anyhow, the Panchayat severely reprimanded the shopkeeper – who promised never to put posters on the bus-stop again.
And the FIN team spent the day sponging out the advertisement.
“Madam” said Paranjothi – “Thank goodness – you let me buy good quality paint. Otherwise all the paint would have come off with the sponging.”
So please let’s give a big hand to the Kameshwaram Panchayat team for taking swift action and to the FIN team for laboring the whole day to bring the bus stop back to its pristine beauty!
***************************************************************************PS _ I had written this in the train in the evening and decided to take a short nap – keeping my hands loosely on the computer keyboard.
When I woke up – a serious gentleman sitting next to me – who had been busy working on a musical composition on the special sheets designed for Western classical music leaned over – “I love your computer screen picture – it helped me to dream. What is it?”
I looked at my screen saver with the photo of the Kameshwaram bus stop and replied – “It’s a bus stop in a little Indian village. And you know what? It’s still this beautiful. Thank God” And I continued: “Do you want me to sleep some more so that you can keep dreaming?”
“Yes please” he replied! ***************************************************************************So that’s what happened. I have three takeaways from this latest story from Kameshwaram. Can you guess them? Let’s hear from you!

As citizens, firms and policy makers plan to exponentially increase their efforts to clean up India –  Friend In Need continues in its small but very firm way to clean up one village and document the process – not for a Minister’s visit but for sustained state of hygiene and cleanliness! Its history is very difficult to write, especially for those who have been part of it. But here, Sangeeta Venkatesh, who has been with the project since its inception and continues to be one of its pillars, has managed to capture it in a crisp article ! Read on and many thanks to Sangeeta and Clean India for letting us share it with our readers!