Save a Life ~ Build a Toilet

UPDATE 1/25/15 : The Bearing Witness Retreat to India has returned! Toilet Construction has  begun and the well is complete!  Without the support of your donations we could not have gotten this far and cannot go any further.

We took plenty of pictures to archive our progress. We hope you will share these pictures and message to social media to continue being allies to people living in these conditions.

Toilet Construction

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To view all of these images, navigate to this link

There are stringent employment privileges granted to each corresponding caste. The lower caste or casteless(dalits) getting the most “unclean” of tasks in society; Handling human waste, cleaning toilets, and scavenging.  Some face tthreats of violence from members of higher castes if they refuse to carry out the work. Building toilets is one way to provide employment, skills, and build community  without facing reprucussions from the higher castes and improving health for all community members.

School Site

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Full Album

Well Construction

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By request of Dailt’s in India; Venerable Pannavati has undertaken a mission to not only teach the Dharma but assist in raising living conditions in Tamil Nadu, India. Toilets may hold the key to safety and and relieving mal nutriton.

More than 240 million people in India are called “Untouchables.” Also known as “non- humans”, these people are believed to be unclean by birth. They are  the Dalits. The word means “crushed” or “broken to pieces.”

Although  India’s national constitution of 1950 sought to abolish caste discrimination and the practice of untouchability, the caste system  remains deeply entrenched.

Every 30 minutes a woman in India is raped
, and it’s often the impoverished women who relieve themselves in the open who are targeted.

Across India, more than 600 million people (More then half the population) don’t have access to private toilets.


New studies suggest a link between open defecation and mal nutrition.

“The difference in average height between Indian and African children can be explained entirely by differing concentrations of open defecation,” said Dean Spears, an economist at the Delhi School of Economics. “There are far more people defecating outside in India more closely to one another’s children and homes than there are in Africa or anywhere else in the world.”

These children’s bodies divert energy and nutrients away from growth and brain development to prioritize infection-fighting survival,” said Jean Humphrey, a professor of human nutrition at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “When this happens during the first two years of life, children become stunted. What’s particularly disturbing is that the lost height and intelligence are permanent.”

Yes, a toilet CAN save COUNTLESS lives and halt stunted intellectual development!

November-December 2014 :

We intend to supply and teach men in the colony to install the first 50 to

100 individual family toilets; train and provide salaries to 2 sanitation awareness counselors for

one year; and, we will install needed permaculture around the completed well to insure a

regenerative and self-sustaining eco-system. In addition, Prisca Weems, President of

FutureProof, who specializes in green-building and use of recyclable materials will be

accompanying us to consult on the architectural design of the school compound. Our technical

university building interns from the U.S. will arrive during Spring break 2015.

Save a life: donate $40 to install a toilet–Train a mind: donate $100 to school construction!


 “500,000 children die every year in India from malnutrition not because they don’t have food

but because of poor sanitation. Just $40 will provide a family with a toilet, dignity, female

safety and improve their children’s ability to learn.…” Pannavati

How your gifts have made a difference since 2012:

In 2012, we installed latrines and helped complete construction of the Ambedkar Educational

and Community Center in Chennai, provided youth activity materials and instruments for their

music program; and provided small stipends for 13 activist families in Kanji as they work

tirelessly for the Dalit community without compensation.


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