Sita rests in the shade of her mango tree, relishing the cool air. She can enjoy these moments now. Her compound has been swept spotless, the children’s clothes dry on the washing line, the kaba toh (maize flour) is prepared for lunch.
Five years ago, she was suicidal. She and her husband Ankoma were deep in debt. The meagre pay they earned harvesting cashews didn’t cover the cost of the family’s trips to the health clinic. The bills stacked up.
The children were often sick. Diarrhoea can be fatal in remote rural areas of north-east Ivory Coast, so life was precarious. ‘We felt trapped,’ Sita says. ‘We wondered what was the point of living if you’re in debt to everyone?’
‘Thank God, our village is clean and doesn’t smell. My family is healthier. I returned the money I owed and I felt great.'
Sita, Ivory Coast
What changed everything for Sita and her family was something simple: a toilet. Before, like everyone else in Yalo, they went to the toilet outdoors. Hence the diseases and vicious cycle of debt and despair.
A breath of fresh air
Tearfund’s local partner organisation taught Sita and Ankoma to dig a pit and construct a toilet enclosure. The family’s health improved almost overnight. They set up a community water pump and a village committee to maintain it. Families built their own toilets and they’re immensely proud of them.
‘Thank God, our village is clean and doesn’t smell,’ says Sita. ‘My family is healthier. I returned the money I owed and I felt great. Now we have money to send our children to school.’
For Sita, the economic benefits are clear. But there are other rewards too, less tangible but no less life-changing: privacy, dignity, hope. Plus, the fragrance of ripe mangoes… priceless.
- Give thanks for improved health and the other benefits that having a toilet has meant for Sita and her family.
- Pray that Sita’s children will thrive at school now that they are enjoying healthy lives and are able to continue their education.
- According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), every £1 spent on sanitation has a return of £5.50 from increased productivity and lower health care costs. Pray that more people will enjoy the amazing benefits of a simple toilet.
Toilet Twinning, which raises funds to support Tearfund’s water and sanitation programmes, invites you to link your loo with a life-changing latrine such as Sita’s. Visit www.toilettwinning.org for fundraising ideas, resources and a film about Sita.