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by Heidi Isaza, WV communications

How many times have you used the toilet today? Judging by the fact that you are awake enough to be reading this blog, I’m assuming the answer is at least once, and probably more. (Maybe you are even reading this while on the toilet, which means you probably have the luxury of using a loo that is clean, private, and relatively comfortable).

For all of you who are fortunate enough to have a toilet in your life, I would like to wish you a happy World Toilet Day.

No, I’m not kidding — Saturday is World Toilet Day. You mean you didn’t get the memo?

Granted, for those of us who are lucky enough to have an abundance of bathrooms in which to “do our business,” it might seem a bit silly to celebrate the toilet. Aren’t there bigger development problems to tackle? Bigger accomplishments to celebrate?

But I want you to think back to the last time you didn’t have a decent toilet when you needed one (maybe your last camping trip, that port-a-potty at the stadium, or that long stretch of road between rest stops). Toilets, or lack thereof, are no laughing matter. Are they?

For those of us who are fortunate enough to live in developed societies, it is easy for us to chuckle at the important role that toilets and proper hygiene play in our lives.

But for those 2.6 billion people — more than a third of the world’s population — who don’t have access to toilets, their absence can lead to sickness and death. Did you know?

  • Children living in households with no toilet are twice as likely to get diarrhea as those with a toilet, causing more deaths every year than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.

World Vision takes toilets and hygiene seriously. Last year, we installed more than 30,000 toilets around the world in homes, schools, and health centers, and trained more than 165,000 in proper hygiene practices — keeping kids and communities safer and healthier.

The following are just a sampling of photos of the toilets built by World Vision around the world. Enjoy.

An ode to the toilet | World Vision BlogCambodia: “World Vision has given (us) a latrine and teaches us how to stay healthy,” says Poeung Sokkhonn, 44, with her daughter Chhern, 14.

An ode to the toilet | World Vision BlogPeru: “I have three children under 8 years old, and the lack of sanitary conditions was a huge problem for my family…The latrine that World Vision installed helps prevent my children from diseases, such as diarrhea,” says Arnilla Moya, 28.

An ode to the toilet | World vision BlogSouth Africa: Life is hard for Itumeleng and her siblings. The children are orphans. Their mother died and their father abandoned them. World Vision recently provided them with a new house and sanitary latrine.

Next time you visit the toilet, remember you are one of the lucky ones and that there are billions of people around the world who don’t have such a luxury. (Photos by Sopheak Kong, World Vision Cambodia; Ester Luis, World Vision Peru; and Olwetu Gwanya, World Vision South Africa)

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