| Jun 21, 2013
Day Eight -- Napavine to Castle Rock, WA
20 miles walked today
79 miles to go
Some of you may be wondering what I do when I need to use a bathroom during my walk.
That’s an understandable question—one which I actually thought about a lot before starting to walk.
My basic approach is to focus on prevention. I never pass a bathroom without taking advantage of it because I don’t know when the next bathroom may appear.
But, there times when prevention is not enough. Those situations require creative solutions, like the one that Mary Ellen worked out when walking with me yesterday. Mary Ellen needed a bathroom but one was not available. Fortunately, as we walked along the road, we encountered a construction crew that had a porta potty on a trailer next to the road.
With a smile on his face, the leader of the crew gave Mary Ellen permission to use the porta potty, which she proceeded to do after climbing the ramp into the trailer. And, following my rule about never passing a bathroom, I took advantage of this porta potty as well.
Many of the communities in which Medical Teams International works do not have bathroom facilities for families to use. Some families may have a very primitive outhouse that attracts flies and is so smelly that no one uses it. Other families just use the bushes.
In both cases, the result often leads to diarrhea, a leading cause of death among children under five. That’s because human waste in the bushes or the use of poorly-constructed latrines attract flies which then spread disease on to food eaten by children or even on to the children themselves.
That is why we send volunteer teams to help communities build ventilated, well-constructed latrines. And, that’s why we also train community members to wash their hands after using the bathroom.
I’m always happy when I see a bathroom that I can use during my walk. And, I’m also happy that we’re doing what we can to build simple but effective latrines that are saving lives and improving the health of young children around the world.
Something to celebrate the next time I see a bathroom on my walk.