Oruganti Laila

Sanitation Changemaker

Transforming Transgender Livelihoods

“We are ostracised from society and always have difficulty in accessing even our basic needs. Beggary isn’t an option, not a dignified one. And we deserve dignity. There are many more barriers we will have to face, but it is nice to know that some people are helping us to overcome them. I wish to do the same for my community, as well.” 

O Laila shoulders immense responsibility in her community in Warangal, Telangana. Despite her complicated past where her transgender identity has always been called into question, she chose to take centre-stage and champion the cause of the transgender community in the city. Laila had to leave her native village very early in life so that she could hold on to her sense of identity. An absolute model of resilience, she does not speak of the past. Instead, in the face of rejection, Laila chose to equip herself with education. A post-graduate herself, she strongly believes in the power of education in shaping one’s future and has been influential in the education of transgender youth in the community. She believes that any job is, and should be a viable option for them which is the first step towards dignity. With her leadership skills and strong vision, she has been able to bring together a group of transgender people under the umbrella of an NGO called the Modern Awareness Society (MAS). 

Active since 2004, the organisation focuses on alleviating the problems faced by the transgender community and the urban poor. Today, with her efforts, there are about seven transgender Self-Help Groups in Warangal. Her hard work has earned her recognition. The MAS has been awarded a contract for the operation and maintenance of a community toilet in Warangal by the Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation (GWMC) in June 2020. This has been one of their most outstanding achievements on their path for a sustainable livelihood and leading dignified lives. She is also a member of the City Sanitation Task Force (CSTF) of Warangal. With this role, she has taken the opportunity to serve as a spokesperson for her community with the potential of addressing critical areas like the lack of access to dedicated toilets for the transgender community. She continues to leverage her membership and lend her voice to contribute to the sanitation decision-making by GWMC actively. 

She is also championing the cause for exclusive toilets for the community and exploring various livelihood options across the sanitation value chain for them.