A company we should all get behind.
A recurring theme in this blog is the celebration of people and/or organizations that have a positive impact on their communities. What they do is not easy, but it’s inspirational, and we don’t hear enough about them. So I’ve decided to commit to singing their praises at least once a month. I’ll be calling it Mid-Month Marvels. If you have any suggestions for the focus of this monthly spotlight, let me know in the comments below!
Here are some disturbing statistics:
2.3 billion people, or about 40% of the world’s population, don’t have access to a toilet.
289,000 children under the age of five die every year from diarrheal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That’s almost 800 children per day, or one child every two minutes.
Every dollar invested in sanitation yields $5.50 in increased economic prosperity.
Most toilet paper is still made from virgin trees.
I got these statistics directly from the website of a company called Who Gives a Crap. As you can imagine, they have a great sense of humor. They don’t mind making fun of themselves. (See also this amusing video they made to describe the company and encourage start up capitol. It’s done toilet side, and rather makes me fall in love with their product.) The toilet jokes abound.
What impresses me is that they have not only produced environmentally friendly toilet paper out of recycled products, but they also donate 50 percent of their profits to building toilets and improving sanitation worldwide.
This is a brilliant company that we should all get behind. (See what I did there?) So put yourself on the waiting list (times being what they are) for their backlog of TP, tissue, and paper towels today! (“We’re completely wiped out,” is their tongue in cheek comment.)
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“…people don’t ask victims for solutions.”
I just read an amazing article by Lucy Purdy, entitled, “Birth rights: sisterhood and sexual empowerment in Kenya”. Even more gripping were the additional photographs by Dean Bradshaw. It’s really worth a look.
The article describes how the women of Kenya, who historically have been subjected to female genital mutilation, are becoming empowered to effect change for themselves and their children. Because they are at ground zero, they’re better able to come up with solutions that culturally work for them. Brilliant!
A great quote from that article: “When people portray us as victims, they don’t want to ask about solutions. Because people don’t ask victims for solutions.”
That’s a pretty profound realization. I think it applies in a lot of situations. Unfortunately.
I always get frustrated when I see people in shelters or refugee camps, sitting around looking shell shocked with nothing to do. This is not helping them. This is victimizing them.
Just by dint of sheer numbers, these “victims” can be a great resource. For example, there was much talk about women getting raped when they went to use the bathrooms in the Houston Astrodome post Hurricane Katrina, because there simply wasn’t enough security. I bet that wouldn’t have happened if about 50 women formed a committee and all of them had gone to the bathroom together. Try raping us now, buddy. We’ll tear you limb from limb.
And when it becomes obvious that a refugee camp is going to be around for a long, long, long time, why not give these people the tools to plant crops, even if it’s a tiny garden, and allow them to maintain sanitation and security, rather than make them stand around knee deep in their own feces, waiting for your sparse handouts and indifferent protection?
People don’t want to be victims. They don’t want to sit around, wallowing in their own despair. They want to have some feeling of agency. They want to be able to make decisions about the quality of their lives.
When you are faced with an entire community that is suffering some sort of tragedy, rather than looking at them as a burden to be dealt with, perhaps look at them as an enormous font of human knowledge, experience, and ability. Allow them to attempt solutions. Let them take the lead, and then, if necessary, provide them with what they need to blaze their own trail.
Without power, it’s impossible to have dignity. Without dignity, you start to lose what it means to be human. That’s the real tragedy.
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