My sources on social media tell me that today is World Toilet Day. It’s a bit funny that this is what brought me back to this little blog, but during our travels, bathrooms and toilets became one of the major concrete indicators of my privilege back home.
Sometimes bathrooms are funny. I admit that I often find myself laughing at a well-timed bathroom joke, and to be quite honest, the poop emoji is one of my favorites. And check out this toilet instruction sheet that I found to be especially humorous:
“Wash for male users” and “Bidet for female users”? What’s the difference? “RHY” for varying spray pressure? Who knew peeing could be so complicated?
But sometimes toilets are not funny, especially if you don’t have one, which is the case for about one BILLION people. Not to mention the billions of other people who do have toilets but do not have the resources to maintain them to sufficient health standards.
Many of the toilets we used were luxuries in the countries we visited. They were typically squat toilets in the ground but with plastic/porcelein-like fixtures without a flushing mechanism. Large buckets of water (the size of small trash cans) were stored next to the toilets and one would flush their waste using a small pail and water from the large buckets. This was a pretty messy endeavor, so bathrooms were not as clean as home. I also noticed that this method seriously attracts mosquitoes: the giant buckets of water are breeding grounds for mosquitoes which carry diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Let me just be candid here and say that I was bitten many times on my rear by mosquitoes while using toilets in Asia.
But my minor injustices were nothing compared to the struggle of young girls who have to stay home from school during their periods because they don’t have access to proper bathroom facilities to dispose of their feminine products. At many schools, there is only one bathroom shared between boys and girls, and girls on their periods are shunned or made to feel embarrassed and ashamed when their feminine products are spotted in trash receptacles.
It’s mind-boggling that such a seemingly simple item can have such an impact on education and self-esteem, not to mention hygiene and sanitation on a larger scale.
So on today on World Toilet Day, start to think about our global neighbors by doing this with me:
- Think about how lucky we are if we do indeed have access to private, clean toilets at home, at school, or at work
- Spend a moment educating ourselves and learning about the lack of toilets for billions worldwide and the impact it has on health and education (here’s a great place to start)
- Donate and find more information here
I’ll leave you with one of my favorite toilets from our trip. It was basic and simple with the bucket flush system I mentioned, but it was clean and functional. I also had the lovely company of little frogs friends. How lucky I was and am…