Today Is World Toilet Day
A cholera epidemic has killed over 4,300 people in Zimbabwe since late 2008. One hundred seventy of those people live in Chitungwiza, a sprawling high-density suburb of Harare, which faces sewage and water problems, the likes of which most of the world eradicated in the late 19th century.
In the midst of this living horror is a small charity working with local students called Youth 2 Youth. To help prevent their students from getting cholera, they are doing exactly what we want YOU to do: they're celebrating World Toilet Day today.
World Toilet Day was created in 2001 by the World Toilet Organization to raise awareness for a subject everyone finds embarrassing. But our embarrassment prevents us from facing the problem: 2.5 billion people around the world have no access to sanitation. And, 1.8 million people, mostly children, die every year from diseases like cholera or simple diarrhea. To help them, it's time for you to get over your shyness.
This year's World Toilet Day celebration can be the biggest yet -- if people like you join people like Zimbabwe's Youth 2 Youth in celebrating it.
Today, November 19, World Toilet Day events are taking place all over the world. India has the most events scheduled by a single country, and will feature creative activities like the Beautiful Toilet contest by the Vasantham Trust. Ahead of World Toilet Day, they will visit schools and discuss the importance of keeping toilets clean. And will return on World Toilet Day to award certificates for the most beautifully maintained toilets.
While there is a serious side to why we celebrate World Toilet Day, sometimes humor is needed to break down our inhibitions. That is precisely what is happening in London where Pump Aid and the National Union of Students are partnering for a night of comedy called "It's not a taboo, it's just poo!"
But the biggest event is one that's sure to generate media coverage -- and it's the easiest thing you can do to participate. We call it The Big Squat: a movement for the toilet-less. (Editor's note: we already talked about this.)
Here's what's going to happen: today, November 19, in workplaces, busy locations and universities around the world, groups of people are going to stop and squat. For one minute. Stop, drop and squat. And then they'll explain to everyone who notices them why they're squatting -- and what can be done to solve the problem of sanitation. Big Squats are being planned in places ranging from McGill University in Montreal, a mall in central Singapore, and a big public high school in California -- and more Squat Squads are forming every day.
In fact, pictures have already started to come in to our Big Squat Flickr group.
In Zimbabwe, Youth 2 Youth will be teaching students about importance of proper sanitation and handwashing through activities such as poetry writing, performing plays, drawing competitions and concerts. They are teaching kids who live in fear of cholera every day that the disease can be prevented -- if only people talk about toilets.