On the blog

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Things my mother taught me

It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday, 3rd April! (I know, it comes around so fast!) As well as thinking about our own wonderful mums and showering them with gifts this weekend, we at Toilet Twinning have also been thinking about mums in very different parts of the world.

This Sunday, your mum might like a lovely new scarf or a bottle of her favourite perfume. In countries like Burundi in Africa, this Sunday and all other Sundays, more pressing on a mother's mind is likely to be ensuring her child doesn't get sick from dirty water, and for her family to have somewhere safe to go to the toilet for fear of disease or attack.

From a young age, our mothers teach us to flush the toilet, wash our hands and not to drink dirty water. They know the dangers. But mothers in countries like Burundi are simply not aware of the connection. The consequences of this is very dangerous - 4,000 children die every day due to diarrhea caused by unclean water and poor sanitation (World Health Organisation)

That’s one child every 20 seconds.

Ensuring that everyone has clean water and a safe place to go to the toilet is essential to the health of women and children, since children who lose their mother are ten times more likely to die before their second birthday.

But we can solve this problem. By twinning your toilet with Toilet Twinning, your £60 goes towards projects that promote good sanitation like washing your hands to mothers and whole communities, and goes towards building safe toilets for them to use.

Mother’s Day is a great time for celebration and giving generously to our mums, and it is also an opportunity to share this generosity with mums who live very different lives. So to celebrate this Mother’s Day, twin a toilet this weekend to give the gifts of hope and life to the rest of the world!

Photo credit: Denise Cummings, www.fineartamerica.com

Friday, 18 March 2011

Get your Toilet Twibb-on!

To mark World Water Day on Tuesday 22nd March, we have created our own special little twibbon for everyone to show their support to the people in communities all over the world who do not have access to clean water or sanitation.

If all our supporters and more add this twibbon to their profile picture on Facebook and Twitter for next week, we can really make a statement on behalf of the 2.6 billion who do not have somewhere safe to go to the loo.

It couldn’t be easier to show your love – just go to the Twibbon website and click Allow Access to either your Facebook or Twitter page, to tell your friends how much you appreciate your toilet!

Join us in showing your support this week!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Aria's Story: A week in the life

My name is Aria, I am thirteen years old, and I live in a remote village in Rutana, Burundi with my parents Patrick and Nadine, and my younger brothers Jean-Claude and Remy.

My country is one of the poorest countries in the world, mostly because of a violent conflict which didn't end until the mid 2000's. When my family returned to our village from the refugee camp in Tanzania they found that everything had been destroyed. There were burnt out houses, the ruins of schools and healthcare centres, contaminated water sources, non-existent sanitation facilities and overgrown fields without a single crop to eat or sell.

It has been very hard for my family and our village, especially since sometimes they cannot work because of the illness they get from drinking dirty water from the river. This means that many people get diarrhea, but since there is only one toilet many miles away, disease spreads quickly. It is a dangerous cycle.

Through Toilet Twinning, organisations Cord and Tearfund are combatting this deadly issue by helping the community build clean and safe latrines in villages like ours with money raised by people twinning their own toilets from their home, school or work. They even get a certificate and a GPS location of the toilet they have twinned with!

I am sharing my story through a series of messages on Twitter and Facebook all of next week to highlight World Water Day on Tuesday 22nd March, and the plight of the millions of people like me around the world, who do not have access to clean and safe sanitation, and who suffer because of it.

Please follow my story next week, and help village like mine have a better future by twinning your toilet so that ours can have somewhere safe to go to the loo.

*Aria and her family are fictional, but represent very real and serious situations in countries like Burundi, and are based on case studies of real families. Please follow her story to understand the everyday dangers people like her face because of the lack of good sanitation and clean water in their communities.

Photo credit: Simon Vasey/Cord

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Message from The POOP Project!

It's always great to come across like-minded people, and in the world of toilets that can be especially fun!

Which is why when we got chatting to the amazing education non-profit The POOP Project, based in the US, we had to tell the world about it!

The 'People's Own Organic Power' Project was started in April 2010 by Shawn “the Puru” Shafner, an artist, theatre-maker and educator, to generate public conversations about our often private business, and encourage people to re-examine their relationship to the bodily function that dare not speak its name. The POOP Project is breaking through the thick walls of euphemism, utilizing public performances and art exhibitions, educational workshops, advocacy and community projects to create “poop positive” space where it never was before. They believe that a positive re-evaluation of this most basic act can have major ramifications on the way we think about and treat our bodies, our environment, and our global communities.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner on a toilet made by Zurn last year

For us at Toilet Twinning we think this is incredibly important. With people like Shawn and his project, taboos can be broken down, awareness can be created, and lives in the poorest communities can be transformed with action like twinning your toilet.

Listen to Shawn's message here.

Monday, 7 March 2011

So squat's it all about?

Last week we wrote a guest blog for DefeatDD.org, a website devoted to raising awareness about diarrheal disease. Aside from a shameless use of puns, there was a serious message to our diarrhoeal diatribe, one that we at Toilet Twinning HQ have been discussing in the lead up to World Water Day 2011.

Did you know that diarrhoeal disease is the second-leading killer of children under five? (UNICEF / WHO)

Given that diarrhoea is a treatable disease – and one that many of us consider a mere inconvenience – this can be pretty difficult to believe.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the most cost effective ways of reducing the risk of diarrheal disease is access to clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene promotion. This is why, along with bog building, we place equal importance on ensuring the communities have access to clean water and understand the importance of things like hand washing.

A mother has just walked past within earshot of the public perch where this blog post is being written. She admonishes her young son, a recent patron of the local public convenience… “Did you wash your hands?‘ she asks. ‘Yes mum…’ he mumbles, embarrassed by the public nature of his mother’s inquisition.

So what might have happened, had the water he’d washed his hands with been laced with cholera or some other deadly disease? Or if the loo had been dirty, with no soap or water to wash with. Or if he fell ill, and his mother didn’t understand the importance of keeping him hydrated, or indeed know how.

Makes you think…

Defeating diarrheal disease isn’t just about preventing needless death, but ensuring the long-term well being of millions of children around the world.

World Water Day is on 22 March 2011. Toilet Twinning, along with thousands of others around the world, will be celebrating water... Why not join in too!

Photos: Nick Wilmot / Cord
Clean water in Rutana, Burundi
Children in Rutana, Burundi