On the blog

Friday, 25 January 2013

Home and Away

Refugees arriving in Chad.  Photo: Geoff Crawford/Tearfund
Millions of children worldwide experience the pain of being torn from their known universe and carried along on a journey that must seem incredibly bewildering to them.  

If you’ve ever been homesick, you will know just how painful that boundary between ‘home’ and anywhere else can be.  For most of us it is a mercifully fleeting experience.  For refugees it can be a life sentence,  frequently starting from a very young age.

And the place they land up in is probably not ready or especially able to receive and nurture them. That’s where you come in. Through Toilet Twinning you are now able to twin with toilet blocks built in schools for refugee children in Eastern Chad.  

A refugee is legally defined as a person who is outside his or her country of nationality and is unable to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution. In 2011 there were 15.2 million refugees in the world, and 80% of them were estimated to be women and children.  

There are several hundred thousand refugees living in camps in Chad, many of them displaced from the Darfur region of neighbouring Sudan. Eastern Chad, which borders Sudan, is a semi-arid area with scarce natural resources, subject to droughts, floods and epidemics. So the influx of Sudani refugees weighs heavily on the host communities. What’s more, their chances of returning home are slim.  

Providing water and sanitation, food, shelter and health services are basic life-savers in this environment. Education is vital for all the usual reasons, but also to protect boys from forced recruitment and discourage early marriage for girls.

Twinning your toilet or toilets with a school block in a refugee camp in Chad is a straightforward thing to do, but the consequences can be profound for those suffering the sting of dislocation.  

Friday, 11 January 2013


A few weeks into the new year, and time for a reality check on those bravely-made resolutions. Are you powering ahead nicely or is your enthusiasm and optimism beginning to waver? 

Optimism is a fine quality, especially if tempered with a healthy dose of realism. Optimists are natural adherents to the saying: ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’. 

And sometimes life certainly does deal us some pretty lemon-y lemons. 

Photo (c) Hans Hillewaert
In the developed world, we are unlikely to have to live without basic necessities - such as flush toilets and running water -  for more than the duration of an emergency. But for many people on our planet this is the reality of daily life. 

Why some of us are born into relative wealth and others into relative poverty can either be regarded as a mystery or the luck of the draw, depending on your point of view. An optimist’s view would be that there is always hope of improvement. And thanks to toilet twinners - all 12,000 of you and rising - this hope and optimism can be transformed into reality. 

The Henderson family, who became our 10,000th twinners, show off their Toilet Twinning certificate .
Photo (c) Simon Henderson /www.mustardseedcards.co.uk
Twinning your toilet is a brilliant way to make a real difference to people’s lives. Through Toilet Twinning, your money and your optimism for a better world can be matched with the energy and the hope of the communities we work with.  And that adds up to a whole lot of proverbial lemonade.