The Situation Is Not Ideal, But Upholding People’s Dignity Helps

CWS Indonesia | June 16, 2019

Farida and Anizar at their close-to-home latrines. Photo: CWS

When someone asks you, “Where is the bathroom?”, what is your answer? For most people, the answer to this question is easy. “Down the hall and to the left”, you might say. For pre-teens Farida and Anizar, the answer is not so easy. After the earthquake that hit their town last year, flash floods washed away their homes, including toilets. So, if you asked the girls where their bathroom was last October, they would have said, “At the nearest river or in the woods”. And even that was not the full answer.

,em>“When we needed to go, for our safety, we had to wait until one of our parents could go with us. And, since there was no electricity, we couldn’t go at night. So, we would have to wait until morning, which was really painful”, explained Farida. “If the weather was bad and it was raining, we were afraid of flooding”, Anizar adds.

These girls’ challenges were not unique; they were multiplied tens of thousands of times over after the Palu earthquake, tsunami, floods and land liquefaction. And, as is the case in the aftermath of such disasters, nearly everyone’s hygiene, sanitation and health started declining. From poor, or no, human waste management many problems follow. So, as soon as possible after the September 29th disaster, CWS joined with displaced communities to build sanitary, safe public latrines with electricity and water for women and girls and men and boys.

Farida and Anizar appreciated having these latrines and being able to give a more dignified answer when asked where their bathroom is. “It’s right here!” In fact, the public latrines are reasonably close to everyone’s temporary housing, and they clean and safe like the ones people had before the disaster. And, while this situation is not ideal, it is a point of pride for CWS that we have been able to put humanitarian donors’ money to good use in this way. These latrines mean so much to people’s dignity, which is of great importance in all our work.

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