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4 Ways to "Wipe Out" Poverty on World Toilet Day

WRITTEN BY MIKE PRINS

Wait, what? Toilet day? A day dedicated to the ol’ porcelain throne? The think tank? Dad’s hiding spot?
Much to the delight of every 12 year old boy, here is your day to rip out as much potty humour and poor poo-poo jokes as you like - a literal pun-rrhea if you will! (I dare you to count the puns throughout this article.)

So, we really are honouring toilets? Yes, yes we are. Why? Because it’s important to give a crap. The UN says so. They sanctioned November 19 as World Toilet Day in July 2013, to raise awareness for sanitation causes world wide. World Toilet Day highlights issues around clean water, healthy sanitation practices, safe spaces for women and children, and loads more - it’s a big deal!

I was just in Guatemala and saw up-close (but not too close) the importance of good health and hygiene, and a clean, safe place to ‘see a man about a horse’. Guatemala is a beautiful country that had the tragic experience of a protracted civil war (36 years!) that forced nearly one million people to relocate within the country. As a result, shanty towns popped up all over - along river sides, steep hillsides, and highways.

And now, nearly 20 years after the end of the war, the conditions are still appalling - children swimming in canals that ditches drain into, women washing clothing in rivers green with contamination, families forced to boil their corn in water taken from the nearby lagoon. Because of this, children suffer diarrhea, sores, stunted growth, and some even contract diseases that lead to blindness. It is where people are surviving, but cannot truly thrive until their sanitation issues are addressed.


So World Toilet Day is certainly a day for more than just potty humour. It’s a day for us to do something to help our global neighbours get access to sanitation. Are you having trouble churning out good ideas for how you can make the most of this UN-sanctioned day? Well, frankly, I didn’t have to sit on the loo too long to work out four ways to move this cause along. Maybe my list will move you to get involved, too! (Hopefully, I didn’t heap it on too much!)

4 ways to “wipe out poverty” on World Toilet Day 

1. Know what’s going on. 


Last year the UN highlighted the day at their headquarters in New York by displaying a large inflatable toilet. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images. www.theguardian.com
Check out more at the UN - they are the ones who really got this day started. Please don’t let this one blog post be your only source of information on the subject!
The UN states that “over 2.4 billion people do not have adequate sanitation. Over 1 billion people still defecate in the open” leading to all kinds of disease and malnutrition, and vulnerability to abuse or even rape. Those are staggering numbers. And it all boils down to having one simple thing … a private toilet.

2. “Like” something!


If you’re still looking for something to give a rip about, might I suggest health and sanitation? Chances are if you're reading this, you have access to clean water and quality health care. Many people worldwide do not. As much as we all know ‘liking’ a post on social media isn’t actually doing something practical, it can start there. (And I’m not saying “like” this post per se!) #WeCantWait has been set up to get the conversation flowing. Take the plunge and help other people see what truly matters - yes, what your cousin ate for dinner is important and maybe even funny. But for World Toilet Day, let’s share about something explosive!

3. Do a self check. 

So, it’s time for personal confession. I drive a lot. I throw out plastics and batteries. I use specialty cleaners without checking their bio-hazards. I buy a lot of stuff at the Dollar Store. All that crap ends up in our air, our rivers, and our soil, and then into our lungs and our food. Not only does my contribution to climate change affect the poorest countries in our world the most, but what I buy often indirectly affects overseas labour and living conditions - unregulated factories dump commercial waste into local water sources and low wages force workers into crowded, unsanitary living situations - to name just two.

Our hunt for a cheap gift or a good deal often trickles down to communities in Bangladesh, Guatemala, and China. But carpooling, recycling, and conscientious shopping can really help. It’s time to flush away ignorant and lazy habits and do better! For everyone’s sake.

4. Give Sanitation!


Food for the Hungry knows that health and sanitation is critical to the success of developing communities. Especially those that might need a helping hand from far-away-friends like me or you. The FH Gift Guide has two cheeky options: buy A Clean Toilet, and my personal favourite, buy A Piece Of Crap.

A Clean Toilet helps support health and hygiene training in places like Guatemala, and sometimes even provides funds for sanitary latrines at schools, community centres, or even homes. A Piece of Crap helps support training for farmers with organic fertilizer production, which in turn leads to bumper crops for farmers while keeping pesky chemicals out of their fruit and veggies.

A purchase from the Gift Guide could be a great way to give back on World Toilet Day, or your next smooth move at a brother-in-law’s birthday - it’s sure to get a laugh. Don’t waste this opportunity to do something significant on World Toilet Day. It’s time to give a crap in the fight to wipe out poverty!




*          *          *

Mike Prins is the Communications & Marketing Manager at Food for the Hungry Canada. The son of an Albertan dairy farmer, Mike appreciates cow poop humour with the best of them! Having traveled to numerous developing countries, he has a personal appreciation for the struggle of communities working to get out of poverty. He humbly requests that you not be offended by his "potty humour", and instead, help families around the world get access to one of life's most basic necessities - a toilet.

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Food for the Hungry: 4 Ways to "Wipe Out" Poverty on World Toilet Day
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