A Poor Man’s Restroom

I bet you haven’t seen a really poor man’s toilet. Consider yourself lucky and privileged. You won’t die of a dreaded infectious disease or be hampered in any way, shape, or form. This is not so for the less fortunate. In many parts of the word, toilets are not even in real segregated restrooms which would elevate their status quite a bit. They may be a euphemism for a hole in the ground with maybe some kind of temporary surface on which to place one’s feet—maybe metal or ceramic tile at best. Outhouses and sheds are all too common, the likes of which we have not seen in the west for one hundred years. Maybe you remember one of these as a kid when you went to camp, but it must have been a budget one for sure! Most will not remember hearing of the nasty-smelling chemicals that were used for odor control.

Hygiene is an issue we all care about, but the poor are helpless to take action to improve it. They might not even have a true kitchen with running water and have to shower outside or communally. Hot water would be a precious luxury. Ill health is a sad repercussion of poor facilities. You may laugh when in a country (perhaps in Africa) that does not boast of the latest models of toilets and say to yourself “how quaint.” This is not funny to those in need who have to live with the worst of circumstances daily. Children suffer from rashes and boils. They do not grow up properly and poor hygiene only adds to the problem of insufficient nutrition.

You may balk at the idea of a world in which such toilets exist, and this is the first sign of salvation for the third world. People everywhere need to care about and address the problem even though it doesn’t darken their doors. Now something perhaps can be done at last. Local governments may be remiss but we can seldom change policies. We can fund building, however, by supplying expertise and materials. We can consult on technology pertinent to a given area and provide meaningful solutions. It is our duty and our responsibility and I ask you to spread the word.

It is a crime that primitive toilets exist at all. They are such a basic necessity of life. It is bad enough that bathrooms in some regions of the world are often filthy and disease-ridden. They are little shops of horror. It is worse if no facilities are there at all. Nature is not the answer. We cannot survive as a people if we revert to practices that are centuries old and were intolerable even then. Man is meant to evolve and not stagnate.

Now you know one of the great tragic issues of our time and have no excuse for turning away in apathy. It is hard to confront such things in this day and age. It is not what we expect in the modern world. We have international digital communication, sophisticated technology, smart phones and ipods; but no universal hygiene. It is a plague in the true sense of the word.