19 November World Toilet Day

Saturday, November 08, 2014

I love my toilet. 

It is not the most beautiful part of my house, and neither is it luxuriously fitted with polished water facets or high tech toilet bowls. Still, I love my toilet for a simple reason - it is my favourite hide-out. A space that belongs solely to me once I shut that door. I am allowed to be wrapped up in my small world. I can let go of my responsibilities temporarily to enjoy a few moments of peace to do what I need to do in a toilet. When the kids were younger and I did not have extra help at home, I had to leave my toilet door open in case I needed to rush out to attend to my motherhood duties. The times spent in the toilet were short and focussed on the task. Now that they are older, I can afford to spend more time in my toilet and my children can definitely attest to that. 

My toilet is also the place I go to when I need to cry and let loose of my emotions. It is where I can concentrate most on releasing the anger or sadness in me, and after a good cry, I find peace and move on. The privacy has helped me to have a clear mind and that is where my creativity is at its best. Many home project ideas were sparked off in this small space, and many lesson plans were crafted here too.

The serenity in the toilet allows me to catch up with the world. I often bring my phone into the toilet and spend miiiinuuuuutesssss there, looking through articles shared online, friends' posts and emails. My BFFs often update our whereabouts with this emoticon when we chat on the phone. 

Outside home, luxurious-looking toilets found in good hotel rooms and clean public toilets with unique features make me feel like a queen. The toilet is definitely one of the first areas I check out when we stay in any hotel, and a well-decorated and fresh-smelling one makes the stay so much more pleasant.  

Taken from Terminal21 at Bangkok, Thailand

However, do you know that 
  • 2.5 billion people - around one in three of the world's population - don't have a safe, clean, private toilet.
  • Around 500,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation - that's almost 1,400 children a day.
  • Every year, around 60 million children are born into homes without access to sanitation.
  • More people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet.

Hard to believe, isn't it? These facts were unknown to me until I did an online search on this topic. Many of us have probably taken our proper sanitation facilities for granted. And that explains why the World Toilet Organisation was founded since 2001, and 19 November has been adopted by the UN as World Toilet Day. It sounds absurd and amusing that an organisation is set up solely to advocate for toilets, but the matter is more than just that. There are issues related to a lack of proper sanitation - health, dignity and well-being - and World Toilet Day draws attention to them and serves as a reminder that there is more we can do to change this situation. 

This year's campaign is centered around the theme of Equality and Dignity because
around one billion people in our world today face the indignity of defecating in the open. Lack of clean and safe toilets at schools lead to higher dropouts among girls once they reach puberty (Source)
I am thankful that my children (especially the girls) are able to enjoy the privacy and safety of a toilet when they need to relieve themselves in public, and that they do not have to do so in an undignified manner in the open. I am thankful that the facilities in our public toilets have improved and now, there are even family toilets where the whole family can be in the same cubicle, including the infant. Although our public toilets have not made their way to the list of Top 10 Toilets in the World, many of them are well-maintained and clean. 


We are also blessed that there is more awareness about toilet needs for those with special needs, and we see toilets reserved for their use in most public buildings. Oh, try not to abuse that toilet, will you? We all love the roomy space that comes with it, but for a person with special needs, that cubicle is probably the only toilet he can use with ease. Everyone deserves that space, but some certainly deserve the space more. 

So what can you do after reading this? You can raise awareness of these sanitation issues among your friends. Share this post on your social media platform. Join The Urgent Run, a 5km fun run event that will take place on 9th Nov, Sun at the East Coast Park (registration closes on 8th Nov, 8pm and onsite registration on 9th Nov closes at 8am). There are many more ways in which you can help. It just takes a creativity spark and the sky's your limit. 

Let us celebrate and be reminded of the importance of that little toilet in our homes. Let's give thanks for being blessed with proper sanitation in our country so that our health, dignity and well-being are protected. 

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  1. This is a really enjoyable post. I have read another interesting post about western tourists' encounter with public toilets in asian countries. You should check it out too.


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