Today is World Toilet Day, a globally recognized occasion to direct the attention of pampered, fat-a#$#@ like you and me to the lack of sanitation in the developing world.
Not only is not having a pot to p@## in a lack of dignity even America’s poorest can’t imagine, lack of sanitation brings with it systemic health and socio-economic effects.
World Toilet Day has been celebrated by the UN, NGO’s and the philanthropic community since 2001 with a campaign that- I’m quoting here- ‘mixes humor with serious facts to help people resonate with a problem most otherwise ignore.’
Because from a fundraiser’s perspective, toilets aren’t as sexy as a kid with flies in his eyes or buying a playground for him.
And from a funder’s perspective toilets are just, well, ICK.
I know today, November 19, is World Toilet Day.
I’m just surprised- cr!% in my pants shocked- that UMCOR knows its World Toilet Day.
That’s UMCOR as in United Methodist Committee on Relief, the social service arm of the United Methodist Church, the
mainoldline denomination in which I toil for love of Jesus.
For the past 30 months, I, and many of my congregants, have literally worked like c@#$ to raise the money and provide much of the hands-on labor to install one complete sanitation system in the community of Chuicutama, Guatemala.
We did so primarily because the leaders of the community themselves identified sanitation as the number one transformative step we could help them take towards an empowered future.
We did so also because 2.5 billion people in the world don’t have access to sanitation.
Not only does that lead to a 9/11 everyday of bacteria-related fatalities, it’s the main obstacle to girls staying in school once they hit puberty (think about it).
Probably, you DO have to think about it because YOU DON’T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT TAKING A S#$% any day much less everyday.
Toilets are something we take for granted which means it’s not easy to raise money or awareness about someone else’s need for them.
Not to mention a giant Victorian taboo about talking about s#$% stands in the way.
Over the past 2 years we’ve raised over $100,000 off-budget. We’ve also sent more volunteers to help install the sanitation system than most Methodist churches have in worship on a Sunday.
We did so through…drumroll…’mixing humor with serious facts.’
A series of short videos of a guy in a collar (me~ fully clothed) on or near one of my church’s 37(!!) toilets. In each video I tried to playfully point out that getting upset about taboos like talking about doodie in church is pretty unJesusy when he died naked and most of the people he claims to prefer literally live in, play in and eat food washed in doodie every day.
I was told by the denominational powers-that-be that the word ‘toilet’ is inappropriate in church and in church communications. If you want more of that story please call (703) 768-1114.
Truth be told, the broohaha probably helped us raise more money and I was fine with that until I got this email last week from UMCOR, one of the agencies of the denominational powers-that-be.
Telling me today is World Toilet Day and asking me- I s@#$ you not- to learn more by watching a video.
Of a church employee (a pastor?).
At a toilet.
Talking about the importance of toilets.
Even if we think it’s impolite to talk about.
I don’t think I’m being vain by pointing out the similarities (i.e., stealing) in approach. This UMCOR video is the Gary Busey to my Nick Nolte, the Rutger Hauer to my Anthony Hopkins, or even if it’s the reverse the resemblance is there.
I like to think of myself as a trend-setter, but even I can’t make ‘toilet’ an appropriate word in church if it truly is/was a vulgar, ‘grievous’ offense. Anyways, all the crap was worth it because come January, when our mission team arrives, the project will be complete and we’ll be just an inch closer to new creation.
Since it’s World Toilet Day, why not give to Aldersgate’s Guatemala Toilet Project here. Every wee little bit helps, so do you doodie.
And to celebrate Word Toilet Day, here’s a never-published and not-so-amazing (I was told to delete all the old ones) video my kid did for the project in ’13.