MARODA, India (AP) — A charity that provides toilets to poor Indians is leading an effort to rename a tiny northern village after President Donald Trump, saying the gesture is meant to honor relations with the U.S. and draw support for better sanitation in India.
The new name, Trump Sulabh Village, is not official, and so will not appear on maps. The charity's name is Sulabh International after the Hindi word for "accessible," which is meant to describe the simple pit toilets it builds for free across a country that has too few.
Many of the 400 villagers said they had no idea who Trump is. But they are delighted that their village elders agreed to the promotional gimmick because it also means they will receive free toilets in each of the village's 60 or so mud-built houses. None of the funding for the new toilets is coming from Trump or the U.S.
"I don't understand why they couldn't name it after our own prime minister," said construction worker Sajid Hussain. Still, he's happy for the toilet-building initiative and hopes it is followed with funding for education, electricity and other improvements.
For an inauguration attended by media Friday, organizers coached villagers to shout "Zindabad!" which means "Long live!" each time they shouted Trump's name. The ceremony was staged just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi heads to Washington, D.C., for a sit-down with Trump.
The charity's founder, Bindeshwar Pathak, acknowledged that naming the village after Trump was a stunt aimed at drawing more attention — and hopefully funding — for their efforts to improve sanitation across India.
"Trump is the president of the leading nation in the world, so that's why I chose him," he said.
The fact that there are few toilets in the dusty village of Maroda, about 70 kilometers (44 miles) north of New Delhi, is not unusual. More than 60 percent of the country's 1.3 billion people still defecate in the open, and dysentery kills about half a million children around the world every year, according to the World Health Organization.
This story has been corrected to say that dysentery kills about half a million children around the world every year, according to the World Health Organization.