Most of us don’t lay awake at night thinking about a toilet. Outreach donors Jerry and Ethel didn’t either, until they got a message from Outreach International last November about the urgent need for toilets in the developing world. They learned that one in three people in the world lack access to working latrines or toilets – a shocking 2.4 billion people who live without proper sanitation. And without a toilet, diseases like cholera and diarrhea spread, killing 1.6 million people a year.

These are the sad realities for the majority of people living in developing countries who lack sanitation systems to process human waste. For most, it is just a hole in the ground, a stream, or somewhere in the village, with very little privacy.

Jerry and Ethel were moved by the story of Rose, a resident in a small village in the Philippines, whose life had changed after receiving a latrine. With her shame lifted and a cleaner environment, Rose and her family are healthier, giving them a new sense of pride and accomplishment. They decided then and there that their family would be receiving toilets for Christmas – a gift which would go where they would have the greatest impact for those living in poverty.

They made the decision three years ago to redirect their Christmas giving, electing to use Outreach International as their Santa Claus by giving a gift in their family’s names. Farm animals the first year – to provide food and income; a water buffalo the next – with a buffalo body part assigned to each family member. Last year, everyone received toilets. Not a fancy toilet, just a clean, sanitary one, with a picture and story of one girl’s life attached, that shared the impact of just what one simple cement toilet can do to make the world a better place.

You too can make the world a better place; one toilet at a time.

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