A Toilet Can Change The World

The other morning I awoke to this story on NPR’s “Morning Edition”.

Two teenage girls were gang-raped and hanged. The girls lived in Katra Sahadatganj, a remote village inside India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh.

I recalled the tragic story.

However, I was unaware “on the night they were killed, the two teens did what hundreds of millions of women do across India each day: Under the cloak of darkness before sunrise or sunset, they set out for an open field to relieve themselves.”

The story drove home the point: “…the deaths conceivably could have been averted if the girls had had access to a toilet at home.”

I kept wanting to learn more and found this article from The Wall Street Journal.

Something we take for granted multiple times a day: using a toilet.

Every day our plumbers enter beautiful homes all over St. Louis, Missouri to service toilets. “Running toilets”, “leaking toilets”, “wobbly toilets”, “whistling toilets”, “loud toilets”, “complicated toilets”. Sometimes we (the plumbers) find them to be a nuisance because they’re behaving badly.

But…everyone pretty much needs a toilet.

So last month we partnered with American Standard to help promote the “Flush For Good” campaign in which for every Champion Pro toilet we install, American Standard will donate a “sanitary toilet pan” to those in need of improved conditions. Ultimately at the end of May, over 40 sanitary toilet pans were donated to BRAC. We are thrilled with the results!

When we began our partnership with American Standard I learned 1 billion people still practice open defecation and that every day 2,000 children around the world die from diseases resulting from lack of proper sanitation.

The NPR story opened my eyes. I learned that not only do the poorest among us have to worry about the transmission of disease via flying insects coming in contact with bacteria and pathogens contained in feces, but “now, after the double rape and murder…they fear for their lives performing the simplest bodily function.”

I agree with the author’s conclusion: Let’s hope India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi keeps the promise he made on the campaign trail: “toilets first, temples later.”