Latrines mean more than comfort and convenience

At least two bathrooms. That was the minimum we wanted for our 3 person family for a house we bought this year. I feel kind of silly that we have 2 and a half bathrooms after today, when I saw the joy families had of having one – in the form of an outhouse.

A latrine in Sri Lanka.
A woman stands with her baby outside a latrine built by World Concern in Sri Lanka.

I’m in Sri Lanka now, high in the tea-growing region – where poor tea pickers live in shanties on mountainsides. The average wage here is pretty terrible – and it’s part of the reason why these hard-working people can’t afford the basics of life – including a place to go to the bathroom.

Families I met today were so very happy. It’s like they were on the Oprah episode where, “Everybody gets a car! Wooo!” But no, they’re thrilled to have a toilet. Just think about it—to have a convenient place to go to the restroom is a pretty big deal. I met one mom who has six children, and up to this point, they have had to go to the bathroom off in the hills somewhere, or use one of only a few toilets at neighbors’ homes.

Aside from convenience – and pride – the health benefits of a latrine are enormous. Once we go into communities, install latrines, and teach how germs are spread, children are sick less. Disease is not spread at the same rate. Lives are improved – even saved – because of latrines.

Latrines in the Global Gift Guide

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Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt is World Concern's Senior Communications Director. With a background in journalism, Cathy honed her writing skills as a newspaper editor and now enjoys sharing the inspiring stories of those World Concern serves. She has served with World Concern since 2010.