|The Peace Market latrine, prior to construction.|
What? You didn’t know that November 19th is World Toilet Day? I didn’t either, until I read Amnesty International’s post about “giving a crap for human rights,” and immediately thought of Robin Wright and Amani Matabaro. Neither one who approved my using his/her name in conjunction with “crap,” but both have given time and money toward making sure the women, men and children who use the Peace Market have a safe and sanitary place to … well, poop.
It’s an unsavory subject, but one that is critical to health and human rights. I never thought I’d be so passionate about the toilet, but lately I can’t forget the fact that 2.6 billion people don’t have access to basic sanitation. Next time you flush, consider that open defecation leads to outbreaks of cholera, which is a horrifying threat to the lives of children, especially in eastern Congo, where 1 in 4 children who die before their fifth birthday lose their lives to something entirely preventable – cholera and acute diarrhea.
Immediately after Robin Wright heard of the need and generously donated the money, the latrine started started construction at the peace market! Amani, who met Robin during her visit to eastern Congo with the Enough Project, sent us the photos of the construction and another thank you to Robin, saying “that she has saved lives with the donation!!!”
Asked about the importance of these latrines, the leadership of the Market committee happily replied:
”These latrines are so important that they are going to prevent people from getting very dangerous diseases such as cholera. And we will be selling our goods, especially food, with no fear of contamination of any disease — these latrines are going to save lives! They will prevent us from getting problems with people living nearby the Market since they were already complaining about merchants. A crowd of upwards of 300 people gather at this market every day.”
And Amani’s thoughts about the importance of these latrines:
”A market is a place with large populations and when it has no latrines, it simply becomes a public danger. Building these latrines … is a great sustainable solution to the health threat which was already there since community members started using the Market with no latrines. Many community members come to buy food, buyers and sellers both had no rest rooms and they were coming to use the Health Centre rest rooms, and the danger here is there are many communicable diseases in the area. Patients admitted to the Health Centre sharing latrines with sellers and buyers puts everyone at risk–these latrines will minimize and stop once and for all the risk of communicable disease contamination among sellers, buyers, patients, children at school and those who come to attend the church nearby since all these facilities are very close.”
Cate and I are excited to visit the Peace Market in person later this month to see the completed project, and share more stories with you.
In the meantime, you can support human rights on World Toilet Day by supporting the Water for the World Act. Take ACTION and sign Amnesty International’s petition today!
This isn’t just a problem for tourist boards trying to turn travelers’ gaze from locals pooping in ponds, streams and rivers, this is life and death. “As a result (of open defecation), more than 2 million people — including 1.5 million children — die from complications of chronic diarrhea.” (World’s Toilet Crisis, Vanguard)
It isn’t a sexy subject or one for the dinner table, but as the children’s book teaches us, “Everyone Poops.” But not everyone has access to or the education to understand the dire importance of a clean latrine. That’s why it’s crucial that we raise funds to build a latrine in the DRC this month.
This isn’t just any latrine. This would fill a gaping, 30 foot hole that was dug in eastern Congo, dug to build the Peace Market, a dream of Amani Mataboro’s to provide a place of commerce and community near the border, where Congolese and Rwandans could come together and work alongside each other towards peace and a stronger, healthier economy.
The latrine will serve this area of 26 villages and up to 42,000 people. It also benefits villages from the Walungu territory, as well as some communities on the Rwandan side of the Ruzizi river. With $4,500 USD, the latrine can be up and running, and, if we raise $9,000, it can be built as an environmentally sustainable resource of renewable energy – methane biogas.
“The market is the best site for a sanitary latrine, since it is a focal point for the local economy. Without action, it could become the breeding ground for a cholera epidemic, but now it will be a success case for demonstrating healthy practices,” says Amani Mataboro, Executive Director of Action Kivu’s partner, Action pour le Bien- être de la Femme et de l’Enfant au Kivu (ABFEK).
“There is an urgency to this action. Because of climate change, we are seeing signs of the rainy season starting sooner than ever before. If we do not act now, people will die, starting with children and the elderly. If we work together, we can prevent these deaths and build a healthier community.”
1 in 4 children who die before their fifth birthday in Eastern Congo die of something entirely preventable: cholera and acute diarrhea. Help us change that with a donation to a clean latrine and health education today. Learn more here.
To learn more about the World’s Toilet Crisis, watch the Vanguard video. Absolutely disgusting at times (I made the mistake of watching right before breakfast), it’s also informative and inspirational, as you watch communities take control of their health and well-being.
(Photos: Everyone Poops, Amazon.com, latrine being dug at the Peace Market, newly built Peace Market, Opening Day Celebration)