By Elizabeth Alex, community outreach and media relations director for Unbound
The United Nations has designated Wednesday, Nov. 19, as a day to talk about toilets.
At first glance it may seem an odd topic to dwell on for a day. Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about toilets.
Unless you happen to be one of the people without access to one.
According to the United Nations, almost 2,000 children die every day from preventable diarrheal diseases.
Lack of privacy puts women and girls at risk for being victims of rape and abuse, just to do something that most of us take for granted. Leaving their homes to access public facilities, especially at night, is dangerous.
One third of the world’s population — 2.5 billion people — do not have access to a toilet or a latrine, and that includes many children and families Unbound serves.
That number used to include Maliza and Moses, who live with their four children in a small house in Uganda. Their 11-year old daughter, Rosette, is sponsored through Unbound.
The family latrine, made of mud and thatched grass, was run-down and unusable. When possible the family used a toilet in a neighboring church, or they were forced to go into the bushes.
Their children were among many in Uganda who routinely became sick with waterborne illnesses. According to local program coordinator Alice Noel, the risk is especially high during the rainy season.
“The water flowing from the makeshift toilets runs into the wells making it [the drinking water] contaminated,” she said. “Many children suffer from diarrhea and other parasitic infections.”
Personal outreach through our programs is creating healthy change. Unbound-Uganda conducts education campaigns through parent groups, and forms sanitation committees to monitor needs and help build latrines for families who need them.
Maliza and Moses are proof the program works.
When parent support group members saw the state of the family’s latrine, they joined together to provide the labor to build a new one. The family purchased the bricks and sand while Unbound provided iron sheets for the roofing.
“I am very happy,” Maliza said. “Now we have a latrine we can use just outside our house.”
Most people know sponsorship helps with food, education and housing assistance.
But by sponsoring a child you may be giving the most basic tool to ensure health and human dignity.
Unbound also has a Health initiative to address sanitation on a wider scale.