Ercy is a 33-year-old mother of three young children who, along with her husband, struggles with daily life. Sadly, in their West Timor, Indonesia village they are not unique in this regard. So, this is a key reason CWS is working with Ercy and many others in the Timor Zero Hunger initiative.
Timor Zero Hunger focuses, as the name suggests, on helping families overcome hunger, which is related, of course, to poverty and lack of information about good nutrition.
So, when given the chance to join others for CWS for teaching-learning sessions about water, sanitation and hygiene – all of which relate to decreasing hunger and malnutrition – Ercy did. In early March 2019, one of the first sessions Ercy joined was about community-based sanitation. Together, families were enjoined to take their health into their own hands and build hygienic toilets to help reduce preventable health risks. Key among the risks is diarrhea, which is a preventable negative factor in poor nutrition. Good hygiene is essential, though.
When Ercy and her husband built their first latrine alone, they failed. “There was no cover on the pit and the walls were not strong”, Ercy said while meeting with CWS team member recently. The open pit, concentrated odor and falling-down bamboo walls kept the children from using it; they continued to defecate in the open.
Still, knowing what they had learned with CWS, Ercy and her husband wanted a toilet the children would use.
As things were, they could not afford it because they are subsistence farmers who add to their income with seasonal construction work. Their income barely covered daily living. But, when Ercy also joined a CWS supported savings and loan group, the hope of a new toilet became more realistic. Not only did Ercy and her husband save a small amount of their cash monthly, Ercy joined the group’s weaving classes. With her new skills she earned more money, which entitled her to a small loan from her group.
Their savings and the small loan made it possible for Ercy and her husband to buy quality materials for their toilet, which they finished in October. “My whole family now uses the toilet. My children no longer defecate in the open”, she said proudly on our return visit. CWS is happy that savings and loan group are another key part of Timor Zero Hunger.
Helping women like Ercy make one small home improvement – a usable toilet – possible for her family is one way CWS teams work to help families make sustainable change in their lives.
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