says Florette, walking with her friend Shella, “People can see us, every time we go.”
Young people are angry about the lack of sanitation. But fighting for change is pointless. “It’s always about money and people don’t have money,” says Florette. Kolo Fritjob, the mayor of Morondava, says he has the budget to build only one toilet a year. He receives no money from central government for sanitation. “It is not their priority,” he explains.
Florette, who is one of four children, describes her fantasy toilet. She has given the subject some thought. “Really big with rose walls and white tiles,” she says. “It would have a flush, soft toilet paper and a lockable door.”
Going to the toilet is something we all do. It’s as basic as breathing, yet how often do we really think about where we go? And yet where we go is one of the most important issues facing the world.
Forget high-speed internet access or mobile phones, the gulf between rich and poor can’t be tackled without addressing toilets. It’s not what happens in them, exactly, that makes toilets life-changing, but rather, what doesn’t happen in them. If you have a toilet you are freed from the terror of snakes in the middle of the night, of someone seeing you, of not being decent, of getting sick. When you have a toilet, you are shielded from risk.
But toilets aren’t solely about health and practical matters. They are beautiful constructions that often seem to tell you about the inner life of their owners.
If you want to know what it’s like to yearn for a baby, to get divorced, to have a mental illness, to grow plants, to be happy about dying, you can find it here in these stories of people and their toilets.
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