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Friday, 10 June 2011

Changing the world from Norman's bathroom

We love hearing from our supporters! Norman Colville, a Toilet Twinner from Edinburgh, recently dropped us a line about how the view from his loo is helping raise awareness of the sanitation scandal facing poor people all over the world.

When faced with the statistics on water and sanitation in far-flung places it can be tempting just to ignore them and carry on with our own lives. After all, what difference can one person make? Toilet Twinning makes it possible for anyone to change the world … from their bathroom.

Without people like Norman, Toilet Twinning simply wouldn’t work. If you’ve got a story about raising money for Toilet Twinning or have been inspired by Toilet Twinning we’d love to hear from you. And now, over to Norman...

When I discovered Toilet Twinning I thought it was a fantastic idea. The certificate constantly reminds me of the plight of the 2.6 billion people who do not have the basic luxury of going to the loo in privacy, safety or with the most basic hygiene.

Some people may say that issuing a certificate is a gimmick. I would disagree because for me, having the certificate on display in the toilet is a constant reminder of how privileged I am to have had the basic resources of fresh water and sanitation all my life.

Also, it can be a relatively easy thing to make a gift to those in need and then carry on with life feeling quite pious that you have done your bit to help. The certificate acts as a stark reminder that these problems are long term and require constant resources to overcome them.

I have found the reactions of visitors using the toilet very interesting. They usually fall into two categories: some visit the loo and say nothing about the certificate; others, however, find it initially quite amusing but are interested to find out more about it.

A friend of mine who is a retired Marine Engineer used the loo recently. On returning from the loo, he pointed out that the flush mechanism required some maintenance. That spoke volumes to me – for him to have noticed such a minute detail as the flush handle he must have also noticed the certificate, but chose not to mention it in conversation.

I have been deeply challenged and humbled by Toilet Twinning and Tearfund’s Make Life Flow campaign [check out the campaign video], so much so that I am planning to serve in some practical way in the future (God willing). I recently took early retirement from my work as a Marine Engineer after 35 years service, and I believe that I have God given talents and skills that I can use to help bring these most basic of facilities to people who so desperately need them.

Norman Colville

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