We’ve made no secret of the fact that sanitation can save lives. Latrines and toilets are so important for impoverished communities, especially at a time when a third of the world’s population is without access to either. We’re working hard to change that.

Outreach International is partnering with Engineers Without Borders in San Francisco to increase the innovation of safety and sanitation in Nicaragua. Last summer, we worked with communities in Santa Lucia, Nicaragua, to build composting latrines.

Not only do these latrines give families a safe place to relieve themselves, they double as a means for fertilizer.

Using waste from the compost, they can increase crop growth. And when communities have enough nutritious foods, their children won’t go hungry.

“I’ve seen people construct their own latrines out of sticks and pieces of plastic, but they break,” said Carlos, a father from Santa Lucia. “For many years, no one could help us, and we didn’t know how to help ourselves.”

When Carlos and his neighbors began talking about their needs, they decided to do something about it. Working with Outreach staff in Nicaragua, they summoned Engineers Without Borders for support.

Even though Engineers Without Borders came in to tell the community about this innovative system, it was the men and women of Santa Lucia who managed the project and the finances.

When Carlos stepped into a bank for the first time in his life, he was so excited at how far he and his family had come. “Never in my life did I think I would go to a bank,” he said.

In the span of 10 days, the community built 14 life-saving latrines. The project went so well that the Nicaragua staff is planning to use this method in other communities as well.

“I’m so impressed with the motivation and ability of the team to work together to solve health-related issues of sanitation and water contamination,” said Patrick of Engineers Without Borders. “I’m also impressed by their organizational ability and the way they managed the project and funding.”

Many Outreach families without latrines are eager to start composting projects of their own. And YOU can help! Click here to give latrines to families in need.

You’re just in time for the holidays. Go to outreachshop.org for latrines and other great gifts that will excite loved ones and impact those in need. It’s the greatest gift you can give.