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)
“I cannot wait to see this market construction complete. I have been selling clothes for about 4 years here. Every time when it rains, we have no place for shelter. During the dry season, the sun causes a serious problem. When it rains my goods are wet and nobody buys. My friend lost a basin of palm oil because of rain 3 months ago. She no longer comes here because that was the only money she had. I am very excited about this market. We have a place to shelter. Now I believe there’s time for suffering and time for Hope. We thank ABFEK and their supporters. We’ll be selling calmly [in peace].”
The words of just one of the many women whose lives will change because of the creation of the Mumosho Peace Market.
|The women (and a few men) of the Mumosho Peace Market at the opening ceremony.|
|Opening ceremony – Mumosho Peace Market, July 2011|
The first thing we discovered when we met Amani was that he’s a man of many dreams with one overarching vision, to give hope and a future to the women and children of his community in eastern Congo. Then, he told us of a place that he envisioned as a “Peace Market,” a safe, communal space along the border, where the Congolese and Rwandans could come together and work alongside each other towards peace and a stronger, healthier economy.
Through ABFEK’s partnership with Empower Congo Women, Falling Whistles, and a generous donation from the Rotary Club of Montecito*, Amani’s dream of a Peace Market in Mumosho has become a reality. Last weekend, he witnessed his vision become literally solidified, as the community that supports the project traced their names into wet concrete, to mark the spot and space where hope can grow.
We’re so excited to witness the changes that are growing out of Amani’s visions. From the following email and the abundance of exclamation marks, he’s pretty excited as well:
“The Market project is gradually being completed!!! We opened it last Saturday but we still need to do latrines and stalls inside. So many people came to attend!!! Children are also very happy,they told us a market was a real need in the community. After the opening ceremony,we asked people and the organizations who donated and who want to donate to sign in the concrete, and the reason why you’ll see AK (Action Kivu) on the banners and in the concrete is because you have been supporting ABFEK and they implemented the project!!!! This project is so important that it will help the women in our sewing centres to sell the fabrics they make. The plans are: while school children are on vacation, the women in the sewing centres have to make school uniforms for the kids and will sell some in this market!!!”
To all of you who support Amani, the women and children in eastern Congo via Action Kivu in spirit and generous funds, thank you. YOU ARE making a difference.
|Peace Market under construction – supervised by Mark of the Montecito Rotary Club, an engineer who oversaw the project.|
(*Read more about the Peace Market and the other generous Rotary Club donors including Santa Maria Rotary, D.5240, Korea D.3270, and Rotary Club of Wakefield RI, as well as private donors at Empower Congo Women.)