Today is World Toilet Day…ahh the humble toilet. The loo. The potty. The porcelain throne. I know it’s something that I take for granted and expect will be present in every home I visit, every restaurant I frequent, every church I attend — or waaayyy in the back at every Home Depot — when I’ve really got to go!
For every toilet I see here, there are thousands of Liberians who’ve never set eyes on one, let alone used one. In our school community of Deanville, the majority of families use “the bush” — a practice known as “open defecation”. This is not only an environmental issue, it’s a significant hygiene problem that contributes to poor health through direct contact with feces and flies or by contamination of open drinking water sources like hand dug wells and rivers. Children are impacted especially hard since they’re already vulnerable to disease from contributing factors like poor nutrition, lack of hand washing and scarce healthcare. I’ve spoken to many families where most of the children are endlessly experiencing “runny stomach” and at least one person is suffering from typhoid, commonly transmitted by either direct excrement contact or contaminated water — or both.
So am I just lucky to have been dealt this hand — this royal flush — where I’m fortunate enough to live in a land of omnipresent toilets and ubiquitous potable water? Having proper toileting facilities should not be based on a luck of the draw. Sanitation is a human right not an element of chance. In fact, in 2010 the United Nations passed a resolution acknowledging that “clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights.“
With your help, Gbarnga Mission has been able to provide our GLTC students ready access to boy’s and girl’s restrooms with toilets and running water. A solar-powered pump sends water through a filter and chlorination system to a 30-foot tall water tower that provides clean drinking water for them and the cooks who prepare a school lunch each day. Our next step is to move into the Deanville community and work together with village leaders to improve sanitation and hygiene practices before our students even reach the GLTC campus.
I hope you’ll join us as we stack the deck and make plans for a better 2021 where everyone in Liberia has a royal flush. Happy World Toilet Day!