water aid

90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein arrested for peacefully protesting today in Ferguson. You can help get her and others out (@AwkwardDuck, @GeekNStereo, and some I’m less familiar with, Twitter-wise) by donating to #OperationHelpOrHush. They are not only raising money to bail out peaceful protestors, but they use all funds to help the community and bring them food, water, medical aid, gas masks, and other equipment to help them not die during this terrible time. Follow @SheSeauxSaditty for more info.

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RISING UP - MODELS GIVING BACK

Justanorm’s Jamel Gordon Lynch and Jeremy Boateng have teamed up with Topblackmodels & The Voice UK finalist CJ Edwards recorded an inspiring song called Rising Up for Modelsgivingback with proceeds from the single going to Water Aid - a charity that works towards providing safe access to water, sanitation and hygiene in many countries around the work.

It’s amazing that these guys are using modelling as a platform to do some good, and I hope that you guys will get behind them and support the single!!!

You can download the single here on iTunes or through Amazon

More info on Modelsgivingback.com

The cast of Downton Abbey showing their support for Water Aid after water bottle gate.

http://www.wateraid.org/uk/news/news/stars-of-downton-abbey-show-their-support-for-wateraid

Text WATER to 70007 to donate £3

Well done!

Toilet or Not Toilet

Is it really a question?

November 19th, World Toilet Day

Happy World Toilet Day Everyone!

Oh, is that weird? You haven’t heard of “Toilet Day?” Maybe you are wondering why there even is something as silly as a “Toilet Day.” I mean -toilets are just there. They are ingrained in our lives. Especially in America where free public bathrooms seem to be a human right. (I’m still bitter about being charged to use toilets in Europe).

In most cases it’s pretty simple: you feel something brewing, you find a bathroom, you go in, you do your business as you read Twitter on your phone, you flush, you wash your hands (hopefully), and you go out and move on with your day. All of your shit is flushed away and you will probably never think about it again… unless of course, it was a particularly cleansing one that will leave you feeling refreshed all day. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about! I ❤️ you coffee and oatmeal!

Anyways, it is crazy to think that some people will go their whole lives never really thinking about toilets. Some people will never veer off the path and poop anywhere that isn’t a porcelain throne 🚽. Although, we all inevitably will suffer through gas station bathrooms or seedy bar toilets (why are they always wet?) or port-o-potties at some point.

Even when I first began traveling, I was able to avoid using a “squatty potty” for at least a year! Throughout my life I would “hold it in” on short backpacking trips, even. I didn’t use a port-o-potty for most of my teen years or early twenties. I wanted to sit on a clean, white magical chair and forget all of my worries. For me it was always toilet or bust.

But now, due to all of this “life experience” stuff, I have learned some things. And because I have a blog, I feel very self-important and worldly so I would like to share some of these things with you.

It is crazy to imagine that some people will go their whole lives never not using a toilet. 

It is also crazy to imagine that some people will go their whole lives never using a toilet at all.

Approximately two billion people on the planet do not have access to clean running water or toilets.

I first heard about World Toilet Day from a girl I met through a friend in London, England. Rachel was my age, just right out of university. She was even from Berkeley, California near San Francisco and where I grew up as well. But Rachel had already made quite a name for herself. Or many names. She was endearingly called the “Toilet Girl” or the “Loo Lady of London.”

She pioneered a very successful tour of toilets and the “history of” around the city center of London, England. She o'poo'ned my eyes. I think she may have changed my life forever.

Rachel was a bonafide Toilet Enthusiast. Or as I like to say an “en-poo-thiast.” She told me that poop and toilets affect our lives far more than we ever care to think. She asked if I had any stories about my experiences with toilets and poop. At the time I couldn’t think of any, but now, I am realizing that I could probably write a whole book about my experiences with toilets and poop. (Coming soon to a bathroom-magazine-basket near you!) She told me she wasn’t very punny so I gave her a few poop jokes that I could come up with on the spot.

I always have poop jokes a-brewing. They are my favorite. Thank you Captain Underpants books for providing me with such inspirational material during my formative years! 

It wasn’t until shortly after meeting London Loo Lady Rachel, after traveling by bicycle around Europe, and then moving to Madagascar that I realized that “poop” was more than just a joke to me.

At the tender age of 23, I found my calling. Actually, I found my first calling in middle school (event planning). This was my second calling. My #2. My #2 was #2!

Poop. 💩

When I was researching the logistics of “going to the bathroom” while bike touring around Europe, one blog had written “there are either toilets no where, or there are toilets everywhere.” This meant to say, that if you had to go… you really just had to “go.” Find a nice tree, dig a hole, and make it happen.

Currently, I live in a small village on the east coast of Madagascar and there really are NO toilets anywhere. At all. There is no running water. There is no plumbing. I am one of the only people in my village with a latrine. People poop in the rivers, they poop on foot paths, they poop in front of the hospital, they poop in the rice fields. Open-defecation is everywhere. 

(My dusty, trusty Latrine or “Kabone” in Malagasy. There is a hole under that cement, and I poop there.)

One of my first introductions to the region I live in was stepping in human poop, barefoot, at the beach nearby. Yes, I agree! It’s kinda funny.

But it is not really a joke anymore.

Poop is filled with bacteria and it gets in everything. Open-defecation is the leading cause of diarrheal diseases such as dysentery, cholera, and acute diarrhea (ain’t nothing “cute” about it!). These diseases can be fatal and many people that live in my village constantly suffer from diarrhea and dehydration because there is poop everywhere and it gets into their water and food. Diarrheal diseases are the third leading cause of death for children under five years of age in developing countries.

It’s bad.

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in the health sector, I have decided on the main focus of my service: I will focus on Water, Hygiene, and Sanitation. (I will also continue working in malaria prevention, nutrition, and safe motherhood as well… don’t worry Big Brother).

I truly believe that people should have easy access to toilets and/or clean and contained places to poop for the good of humanity! (*cough* accessible *cough* Europe *cough*).

I have already begun building relationships with my community to hopefully change some habits along the way during my two-years of service. I sit around and chat with villagers, I present to kids at school, I talk with moms at nutrition classes and people waiting to see the doctor. I even go door-to-door like a Mormon, preaching the good word of the newest profit Joseph Sanitation!

I would like to encourage people to wash their hands with soap and to properly treat their water. By explaining what germs are and where they come from and how they can cause sickness and disease, I hope to empower people to kill pesky germs and to stay healthy!

(See that tall girl with awesome hair? That’s me awkwardly aiding with handwashing activities at the middle school in my village).

I am going to spend a large portion of the next year continually working with people in my community and helping them to build latrines. Latrines are holes in the ground that are built far away from water sources, and have walls for some privacy. When poop is contained, it is much harder for bacteria to spread! 

(My Poop Pyramid, “Pyramide Kaka” in Malagasy. It explains how open-defecation is bad because it causes diseases and that if poop is contained, we will be happy and healthy!)

I know it is very foolish to write about Peace Corps Project ideas before they actually happen. Yes, this is Madagascar, nicknamed “moramora” or “The Land of Slow.” And yes, the Peace Corps is a government agency, which should also be nicknamed “Slow.” But I am going to do my best to get some shit done and get some shit contained!

I remembered the date November 19th really well because ironically, the Toilet Girl’s UK Visa was to expire on that date in 2014 and she was to be deported. Although, I believe she has been back and forth legally since then and her empire continues. If you are ever in London, please check out the tour!.

This year on November 19th, 2015, I am taking the opportunity to announce my appreciation for toilets, my plans for my village, and yes, to openly admit once and for all that I am a card carrying “en-poo-thiast” as well.

By November 19th, 2016, I hope to have some pretty solid (not loose) results of my efforts here. I hope it won’t be a waste of time! In French they have a saying: “péter le feu!” Which poetically means “to fart fire” (give it your best energy), so that’s what I’m gonna do!

Once again, Happy Toilet Day and don’t forget to wash your hands, you nasty fools out there!

You can learn more about Open-Defecation at opendefecation.org and wateraid.org.

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Hugh Bonneville is Steve’s guest this week. He’s discussing the final episode of Downton Abbey and his visit to India with WaterAid in his role as Ambassador for the charity to see first-hand the difference clean water and toilets can make.

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SO GOOD.

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David Tennant and the cast of Richard II performing in Theatre Aid’s video of Do They Know It’s Christmas in aid of Water Aid

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Sorry to all the people who are following my Crafting with a Conscience blog, but at the mo a few of my posts will be identicle on both blogs, not all, but a few, until I get some more followers on that one!  Plus, I didn’t want my FYC! Followers to miss this beauty!  Lovely project by I Knit London in conjunction with water aid.  From 2006-2007 knitters across the world were asked to send in blue knitted squares to go in this massive knitted river on the south bank in London, to promote Water Aid’s future events and educate people on the millions in the world living without sufficient clean water.