Every day of my life, I thank my lucky stars when I get up, go into my clean bathroom, and take care of business.
Some days of my life, I’m less thankful when I am somewhere where the only “facilities” have no running water. No handle to push. No way to wash my hands.
Of course, with my potty problems, I guess I’m more in tune to toilet issues than most people.
Why am I telling you this? You see, Sunday, November 19, is World Toilet Day. And of course, I’m (1) telling you about it; and (2) celebrating it.
A toilet stands outside the Llamocca family home at Villa Lourdes in Villa Maria del Triunfo on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, October 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
The point of World Toilet Day is actually pretty important. People without access to hygienic facilities risk illness, many women are preyed upon and attacked as they seek out a place to go. Diseases are transmitted, including infections, cholera, well, here’s a picture.
The “F-diagram” (feces, fingers, flies, fields, fluids, food), showing pathways of fecal-oral disease transmission. The vertical blue lines show barriers: toilets, safe water, hygiene and handwashing.
Hope you’re not eating.
World Toilet Day is to help the fortunate ones of us around the world realize that:
2.4 billion people around the world don’t have access to decent sanitation and more than a billion are forced to defecate in the open, risking disease and other dangers, according to the United Nations
We in the West are rather spoiled. And the reality of what some folks, many folks must deal with can be eye-opening.
About 25 years ago, my brother Fred got a grant and went to Africa to study something or other. It was his first experience visiting the Third World. When he came back, he talked only about poop.
It seemed that the city he had visited ran with raw sewage. Poop was in the gutters. Children played in those gutters. The sewage ran into the river that was used to irrigate crops.
Piles of poop were everywhere. In the street. Under trees. In the corners of buildings; everywhere, he said. Even inside. Fred described a memorable elevator in the middle of a hotel lobby, that he had seen. The decorative ironwork around the elevator shaft was delicate and beautiful. But the elevator didn’t run — in fact, the elevator itself had been removed. But people would stand with their backs to the elevator shaft, pull down their pants/up their skirts, hang their butts over the open elevator shaft. And they’d poop.
“I realized something incredibly important, “ said my horrified brother:
“Civilization all comes down to what you do with your poo.”
So when you’re thinking about the craziness in today’s world, maybe we all need to realize that part of our problem is that so very many people just don’t have a pot to piss in.
Yup, it’s a rerun. But you didn’t really think I’d miss World Toilet Day, did you?