A life changing toilet

With new skills, Noy's village is building brand-new toilets for each other, with each other.

Noy's village do things differently.

With new skills, they’re building brand-new toilets for each other, with each other. Only a few years ago she had to use the outdoors – the stream or a nearby ditch because for years toilets weren’t available. When everyone in the village did the same, fresh water supply became contaminated and she’d get sick. For generations, Noy’s community have been working long days in the rice field, raising children – building toilets was both too expensive and not a priority among life’s pressures. 

Noy’s community is supported by Plan International to learn the skills they need to build toilets, and practice good hygiene like washing hands with soap. Now, Noy proudly has her very own loo. So what happened when Noy met her brand-new toilet for the first time? “I felt confused, and shocked. I thought, where does it go?!” The toilet quickly became her pride and joy. “It’s about life,” she says.  “I want my village to be healthy, and to stay healthy.” 

Three years ago, the health of this community was poor – people got sick regularly, suffering from diahorrea and vomiting. Unaware, they were contributing to a statistic Plan International is trying to tackle: diarrhoea-related diseases cause one tenth of deaths among children under five. Many communities are haven’t adopted good hygiene practices, and or knowledge that open defecation can contaminate water supplies and cause illness. 

Noy remembers this sickness well. “I got sick and vomited and had a terrible stomach ache.” But she was also concerned for the children in her village. “Parents go to the rice field, and after school children stay at home playing in dirt and poo around the village - then the father complains about being sick, or the daughter is sick.” 

Noy Laos
Noy talking with Plan International staff about her new toilet.
Noy standing outside her new toilet, built for her by her Plan International-trained neighbours.
A proud community having build their own toilets
Noy's community are proud to have built their own toilets so everyone can go in privacy, and protect the health of children.
Plan is empowering Noy and her neighbours to take it upon themselves and change their defecation practices. It all started with a map of the village. Plan staff sat down with the whole community and mapped out all the places where people defecate in and around the village, and shown how it can end up in the water they drink and wash in. They were then trained on basic hygiene practices like teeth-brushing and hand-washing. And taught all the reasons why keeping a clean environment will benefit their health. Finally, villagers were able to build latrines and received encouragement to use them. 

For Noy, incorporating daily changes like brushing her teeth, washing her hands every day, and using the toilet into her routine wasn’t hard. “It was easy - because it’s about life,” she says.  “I want my village to be healthy, and to stay healthy.”
Noy is no longer confused by her toilet. It has become her pride and joy, and the answer to so many of her community’s problems. “Before we had the toilet we had to go out in the open, sometimes at night. We’d be scared of the dogs and the dark.” She also has a safe place to change and a clean place to clean herself when she has her period. “It’s better because the toilet has water and I can change and clean at the same time,” she says. “It is very good for me.”

Help make a difference, buy the gift of toilet-building skills here.

Isabel Dunstan | 19th November 2015
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