Let’s talk about Toilet

How much will you pay to get access to the toilet when you need it?

To celebrate moving on to another milestone of my career, I decided to join a tour by Insight Vacations to Italy. That was at the end of 2006, winter and the weather was cold. Due to the cold weather, I need to access the toilet rather frequently as I consume a pretty significant volume of water. In Singapore, we can get access to a toilet in many places without the need to pay. Even if we needed to pay, the standard rate was SGD0.10 back then.

I still remember that it was in Milan Malpensa Airport, and I needed to visit the toilet. The janitor was in a suit greeting me at the entrance, and the toilet was spotless. There’s a sign at the door, and the cost for accessing the toilet was EUR2.00. The exchange rate then was double, and I am paying SGD4.00 for a visit to the toilet.

Do you know that in places like India, women might need to give sexual favour to get access to a toilet? The majority of sexual assaults happen when they are relieving themselves in the open. This is one of the reasons that women are controlling their natural call, which indirectly causes young ladies to drop out of school due to the lack of this facility.

Something that it’s so common in Singapore and countries like Japan, Hong Kong, etc., can be in such a shortage in other places. This has led to people seeking loans to build a toilet in their house. I came across a micro-financing platform called Milaap years back, and I am using that to lend money to the people in India, mainly for sanitation. I will lend them a sum of money to construct the toilet, and it will take them months to pay me back in instalments. The cost of building a toilet is approximately USD300.00, and I guess it varies from place to place. Due to my financial limitation, I stopped lending for a long while and withdrew the money back to Singapore.

My Milaap Dashboard

Recently, I started to lend to the platform for the same cause of sanitation. However, I am not helping one person who is asking for a loan. Instead, I could be helping a family or a community to progress indirectly, to have more dignity. I believe that this is why it inspired Mr Jack Sim to found the WTO, not World Trade Organisation, it is World Toilet Organisation on 19 November 2001. World Toilet Day was being designated as an official UN Day on 24 July 2013.

I am not as great as Mr Jack Sim, and I have limited reach and financial ability. However, if I can help share the cause and take small actions myself to contribute in whatever ways I can, this might snowball to create a more significant impact on society. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we are connected and living on a small planet. While an event might seem to be far, it will impact us in a way that we might not imagine. If we can see each other that co-exist in a shared space, we should try to reach out to help out to make this a better place.

So the next time if you are short of topics to chat with your friends when you are catching up with them, how about talking about the toilet?



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