So in honor - I am going to post some pictures from the archives - from the summer of 2006.
These pictures were all taken in El Salvador, where we took 10 students and 3 teachers from YES to work with a Peace Corps volunteer for two weeks.
The job: build 7 dual-composting latrines. What this means in English - build outhouses that wouldn't fill up (many of the members of the community either had overfilled pit latrines - yes - imagine it - or no latrines. That's right - nothing. That meant that they... just went.) The picture on the right is of one of our students teaching community members how to use the new latrines.
Brian Walsh from TIME explains the situation well: "Toilets are a privilege that nearly half the world lacks. At least 2.6 billion people around the planet have no access to a toilet -- and that doesn't just mean that they don't have a nice, heated indoor bathroom. It means they have nothing -- not a public toilet, not an outhouse, not even a bucket. They defecate in public, contaminating food and drinking water, and the disease toll due to unsanitized human waste is staggering. ...
But despite the horrific fate of the toiletless masses across much of South America, Africa and Asia, sanitation has never been high on the world's development agenda. NGOs and governments focus on making sure the poor have access to enough clean drinking water, but comparatively little funding goes into sanitation, even though the two are sometimes inextricable: Untreated sewage often ends up poisoning the available clean water in developing nations."We definitely saw this first hand in El Salvador - and I've seen it across the world in my travels. Things like hunger and clean water are 'sexy' subjects - people seem to be willing to donate time and resources to these issues (and thank God for that - don't get me wrong - that is a beautiful thing that those important issues tug at people's hearts).
However, sewage.... sewage doesn't seem to inspire people in quite the same way. Unfortunately, it is just as or more important that providing clean water and food.... Ever had a stomach bug? Guess what that's often from? That's right - ingesting bacteria from feces. No matter how much nutritious food and clean water people are able to consume, if they then defecate on their hand or touch someone else's sewage - and either haven't been educated about hygiene or don't have a way to clean... well, I'm sure you can imagine. According to UNICEF, Diarrhea account for 17 per cent of deaths among children under five years of age worldwide, or nearly 2 million child deaths every year - making them the second most common cause of child deaths globally.