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A Life-Changing Toilet

Can you remember the first time you saw a toilet? 22-year-old Noy in Laos does. “I felt confused, and shocked. I thought, where does it go?!” It wasn’t until three years ago that Noy’s village built toilets – before that people defecated anywhere: the stream, a nearby ditch.

Noy lives in a remote village in Bokeo, Laos. Three years ago, the health of this community was poor – people got sick regularly, suffering from diahorrea. Noy remembers this sickness well. “I got sick and vomited and had a terrible stomach ache.”

Noy and the latest addition to her village - a new toilet.

Plan International and partner government staff met with the whole community and mapped out all the places where people defecate in and around the village, and shown how it can end up in the water they use to drink and wash. This is part called Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), which means the community works together to improve sanitation – with the help of Plan International.

They attended sessions on the importance of basic hygiene practices like hand-washing before eating and defecating in the toilet (rather than in the open field or in the river). The next phase of the program is the building of toilets by villagers.

For Noy, incorporating daily changes like washing her hands every day, and using the toilet daily wasn’t hard. “It was easy – because it’s about life,” she says.

I want my village to be healthy, and to stay healthy.

Noy’s toilet has become her pride and joy, “Before we had the toilet we had to go out in the open, sometimes at night. We’d be scared of the dogs and the dark.”

She also has a safe and private place when she gets her monthly period. “It’s better because the toilet has water and I can change and clean at the same time,” she says. “It is very good for me.