No laughing matter!

Every once in awhile, we need to be reminded how very lucky we are!

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you’ll probably recall that I’m an avid Kiva lender. Kiva is a non-profit organization that allows a person to lend as little as $25 to a specific low-income entrepreneur in one of 83 countries around the world. Though Kiva provides loans to both men and women, I choose to lend to women who are borrowing money to purchase specific items that they will use to generate income that will help them support their families and educate their children. As each of these women makes a monthly payment on her loan, my share of that payment is deposited in my Kiva account and I receive an email notifying me of my updated balance. I could withdraw the money at any time but instead, as soon as my balance reaches $25, I search the Kiva database and choose another woman to lend to. Today, I made my 30th loan!

Sokhem is a garment factory worker and mother of 5 who lives in a rural area of Cambodia. Together, she, her husband and their oldest child earn a combined income of approximately $13 a day. Sokhem requested a Kiva loan to purchase some cows and start a breeding program, but it was actually one of her long term goals that caught my eye and prompted me to help her today. She hopes eventually to be able to build a bathroom with a toilet in her home.

Can you begin to wrap your head around the idea of raising 5 children in a home without a toilet? I can’t.

Did you know that this Wednesday, November 19th is World Toilet Day, a day set aside to draw attention to the one-third of humanity who, like Sokhem, lack basic toilet and sanitation facilities? I didn’t either until I read this morning’s Edmonton Journal article just before checking my email and discovering that I had the necessary funds to make another Kiva loan.

World Toilet Day! It’s hard not to laugh, isn’t it? Sadly, when you read the statistics, it’s not a laughing matter.

  • One billion people – a sixth of the world’s population – defecate in the open because they simply have nowhere else to go.
  • In India alone, 600 million people – about half the country’s population – lack toilets in their homes.
  • 1.5 million children die annually from diarrhea that could be prevented by simply having clean toilet facilities.
  • People living in many towns and villages in Africa and elsewhere run the risk of being bitten by scorpions and venomous snakes every time they relieve themselves in fields and woods.
  • One billion people get their water from sources contaminated by human and animal feces.
Over the course of our travels, we’ve seen the best and the worst of the world’s toilets from “squatty potties” in many parts of Asia to high tech toilets with heated seats and built in bidets in higher end Japanese establishments, but wherever we’ve been, we’ve always been able to find a toilet to use. Here in Canada, where it’s not uncommon for a home to have 2 or 3 of them, we take so much for granted. On World Toilet Day, let’s not forget how very fortunate we are!



4 thoughts on “No laughing matter!

  1. You forgot the “flying toilet” – I’m sure no explanation is needed. Let us just say that when I visited a certain slum, it wasn’t doggie doo on my shoes.

    I recently had my first repayment of a KIVA loan which I turned around again. When I can, I like to support women’s groups who benefit the community. You introduced me to this group and I find it very satisfying to loan.

    • The flying toilet is one thing we haven’t experienced but that brings to mind another statistic that I could have included. In Kenya alone there are 10 million people who live in the slums and 8 million of them don’t have access to a clean toilet.

      I’m glad you find making Kiva loans as rewarding as I do!

  2. Whoa! I would have never guess that there is such a day, honestly. It is essential to have proper sanitation and this cannot be achieve if people are drinking from the same river/pond they use as toilet. Thank you sharing about KIVA, I would like to share it on my Facebook page.. hope you don’t mind 🙂

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