Gospel for Asia (GFA) News, Wills Point, Texas
World Toilet Day, established for November 19th by the UN in 2013, coincides with the 2001 creation of the World Toilet Organization, an organization aimed at raising awareness about and addressing the need for toilets all around the world.
Since Gospel for Asia’s field partners started constructing toilets in 2012, we have helped provide more than 28,000 of these facilities across many Asian nations, including Nepal and India—10,512 of which were constructed in 2016 alone. It’s an exciting thing to be able to come alongside impoverished families and give them a little dignity.
On Oct. 2, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Swachh Bharat (Clean India), an initiative to clean India in multiple ways, including the goal of eliminating open defecation in the nation by Oct. 2, 2019—the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday.
We are proud to be a small part of impacting families, transforming communities and enabling education (more on that later) through toilets.
Gospel for Asia’s field partners regularly inaugurate new toilets, like they did for Mae and her family. Here’s her story.
The Testimony of a Toilet
Like many others in their village, Reuel, Mae and their family had no toilet facility and had to use the open field early in the morning. They especially struggled during the rain. Mae often felt unsafe and uneasy having to go out in the open, visible to any prying eye, but she had no other choice. Although Reuel and Mae made plans to construct a toilet of their own, they couldn’t come up with the funds to start the project.But they weren’t alone. Gospel for Asia (GFA)-supported pastor Vikranta was Mae’s pastor. He had the joy of nurturing and watching the family grow in the Lord and learn to love Him more. As he cared for their spiritual needs, Pastor Vikranta also saw this family struggle in poverty. Pastor Vikranta aimed to change this, and he requested a toilet to be built for them outside their home. During construction, excitement unfolded among the villagers, and many asked Pastor Vikranta to build them a toilet, too. As the walls of the toilet went up, their desire increased to hear more about Jesus and His love. Encouraging those who lived nearby to use the helpful gift whenever it was needed, Mae told her neighbors, “Our church has built the sanitation [toilet] for us.”After the long-awaited toilet was completed, Reuel and his family were overjoyed and deeply grateful. God fulfilled their hope and need of safe sanitation through the prayer and resources of the Gospel for Asia (GFA) community and its partners worldwide. Not only does this family have a safe place to use the restroom, but the toilet stands as a testimony of God’s faithfulness to those in their sphere of influence. It is setting a pathway for many to find the true hope of Jesus and His cleansing love.
2.4 billion Still Have No Toilet
Did you know that to this day, some 2.4 billion people worldwide—about one-third of the planet—still don’t have access to adequate sanitation facilities? Bringing that number to zero by 2030 is one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
But seriously—2.4 billion people?
When I was a kid, I enjoyed our rustic camping trips. There were places we went where we had to use a trowel because there were no toilets for miles. That was an interesting novelty, part of the experience.
But I never had to worry about men coming and attacking me. I wasn’t concerned about finding someone else’s mess. My biggest concern was usually avoiding bug bites in awkward places and making sure I kept my clothes clean in the process.
I could handle it for a few days, but I was always thankful to have a porcelain seat once we got back home. I can’t imagine having to go outside every single day. Rain or shine, snow or wind, mosquito swarms and prickly grass.
And that’s to say nothing of the mess.
Bacteria, parasites and viruses breed rampant in areas which have been used as toilet fields for years. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.5 billion people around the world are affected by soil-transmitted parasites due to inadequate sanitation.We’re talking worms, here.People squat directly into rivers that others bathe in, wash in, and get their drinking water from. It’s no wonder nearly 1,000 children die from sanitation and polluted-water-related deaths every day.
A toilet is a lot more than dignity. It means safety from diseases, from attacks, from bugs and harsh weather. But toilets also impact education in ways not many people may realize.
Toilets and Education
Did you know that toilets directly impact education, especially for girls?
Think about it.
People all over the world have picked up a practice that may be detrimental for their health: holding it.
Without convenient access to a bathroom, countless women deliberately drink insufficient water just so they won’t have to urinate later in some public place. There is this powerful video produced by WaterAid about a woman living in a slum who, among other things, has trained her body to only go once per day so she won’t have to do it more often.
Our bodies are meant to go several times a day! When we don’t drink enough water, we become dehydrated, which means headaches, difficulty concentrating, and decreased performance in school.
Dehydrated children cannot focus as well. They struggle. They fall behind. They should be drinking, but many don’t want to because of inadequate toilets.
And then girls hit puberty.
Every month comes a few days when young women need easy access to a safe place. But if they don’t get it, many stay home until the way of women has passed. That means teenage girls might start missing out on a quarter of their schooling. It’s no wonder so many in toilet-deprived areas fall behind and eventually drop out.
Now, amazingly, global drop-out rates between boys and girls are leveling out on the whole, but they still remain skewed in regions without proper sanitation. This is tragic when you consider the tremendous global push for education and empowering women. Awareness of the need for toilets in this equation has been increasing through the years, and we praise God for that. In fact, it seems that will be one of the topics at this year’s World Toilet Summit.
There are clear trends in data showing that how every year a child stays in school means higher income for that young man or woman as they grow up, which generally means a higher standard of living and greater benefit to their nations.
Here at GFA, we care about children’s education, and those kids care where they go to the bathroom. Check out this story about young sisters Prema and Neha who labored together to provide a home with a toilet for their parents.
Grateful for Toilets
Toilets provide dignity, safety, health, enable education and empower communities.
I remember the excited buzz around the office when GFA’s Christmas Gift Catalog first featured toilets, and we have been proud to feature them every year since. We’re grateful to be part of bringing sanitary joy to tens of thousands of people in Asia.
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