After the death of her mother in 2004, Mandip Kaur Sandher realized her purpose in life was to "give dignity back to less fortunate individuals, especially females." Acting upon the Sikh principle of Seva (Selfless Service), Mandip founded the Punjab Lioness Toilet Foundation, a private family non-profit based out of Ontario, in order to provide proper sanitation facilities to citizens in impoverished regions of India and the world.
700 million people in India do not have access to toilets and must use designated "waste fields" that are separated by sex. The waste fields pose numerous problems for the elderly, pregnant women, and children who often need to be accompanied by an adult in order to use the fields. Many girls in India stop attending school by year 8 as a result of this lack of toilets and proper indoor sanitation facilities.
Mandip cites the 2015 Millenium Development Goals (MDG), which state that 2.6 billion people do not have access to safe and hygienic toilets. The MDG aims to provide toilets to half of these people by 2015 and to all by 2025. A daunting task, the Punjab Lioness Toilet Foundation is doing its part by raising funds and awareness to bring proper sanitation facilities to the rural and poor regions of India. As Mandip explains on the foundations website, there are often no toilets in Indian slums and 700,000 children die annually as a result of diarrhea and dehydration caused by poor hygiene.
Mandip owes her discoveries and the path she has chosen in life in large part to the strength of her mother, Pritam Kaur Bahia. Pritam was called Sherni, which is Punjab for lioness. Sherni discovered that her husband had died while visiting India in 1973 at age 39 via telegram. She could not read the telegram, so it was read aloud to her by her 12-year-old son. Faced with single motherhood, Sherni acted with the strength of a lioness and raised four children, aged 3, 6, 9 and 12. Mandip, who was 9 years old at the time, remembers her mother's strength and uses it as inspiration in advancing her cause and fighting for the less fortunate.
See the lioness Sherni below for yourself: