I love the feeling of getting excited when prepping to go away on tour, packing your passport, packing all your clothes and the sunnies.. This week I will be flying to Bangladesh around the World T20 tournament… However this is the first time I am actually going and it has nothing to do with cricket!
After meeting an interesting gentleman by the name of Thorsten last year at a conference I became surprised by an issue I had absolutely no clue about.
Let me ask you this…
Imagine if you had no access to a toilet … What would you do?
Sounds like such a simple question right?… But actually stop and think about it for a second … what would you do?
OK…I mean it!!!! STOP!!!!
Take 20 seconds to think about it. How would your life be different? How would you have to plan your day? Where would actually you go?
My initial response was to laugh and brush off the topic when we started talking. Then after a minute or so contemplating, it hit me like a rocket. I actually realised how much such a simple thing would impact my life massively and would be more than just an inconvenience. I, like many of you are so fortunate to live in societies with sophisticated sanitation systems that it is easy to take it for granted, however can you believe 2.5 billion people lack access to safe sanitation, almost a billion have no toilet at all?
You are working at the office and it is starting to get dark at the end of a long day. You feel the urge come on. So where do you go? You leave the office and start to go around looking for somewhere to go. Walking up and down the streets, somewhere to crouch out of site of others, and also making sure its safe as it is getting dark. So after 5 or so minutes of walking around desperately holding on, you find a little place to go, no sink to wash your hands and clean up and only leaves to cover up. Now imagine if that was every time!!! At the moment, if feels so hard to comprehend, because I have 5 toilets in my building at work and none are more than 20 seconds away. In fact I counted and from my desk it is about 5 paces away.
After looking into the issue I realised sanitation is one of the biggest global challenges there is! How did I not know about this?!?
Well, I guess the truth is it is such a taboo topic it is not the sort of thing you sit down discussing over the dinner table. I have to say, even though I was drawn to the topic, I was initially scared to talk or blog about it until I saw the stats:
Diarrohea kills a child nearly every 15 seconds. It is the largest hurdle a child in a developing country has to overcome, and kills more children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined!
No longer a small matter.
Reading the knock on effect to females my blood began to boil. See this issue is not just an inconvenience, for women it can effect their safety, health, education and much more.
Inadequate sanitation facilities hit girls hardest, pushing many out of the classroom for lack of privacy and dignity. It is even harder for girls in particular for managing menstruation. In a 2009 Nepal study, more than 50 percent of girls reported being absent at some point during menstruation. Studies in Africa have found that absence is in average about 30% oft he school days. Something like tis should not have to interfere with young females education.
For people living in rural areas with no sanitation facilities, defecation often involves a journey outside the village into scrubland or forest. In many cultures, it is embarrassing to be seen going to the toilet as it is associated with shame and perceptions of uncleanliness. Many women will wait until dark to relieve themselves, with serious implications for their health and safety. Walking to remote locations outside the village leaves women vulnerable to attack and potential rape. Attempting to ‘hold out’ until the evening can cause knock on effects to the body and infections .
How can something that is so simple here in the UK to us have such a big knock on effect around the world? I realised had been living in a massive bubble and it was time for me to wake up.
So if you are a little bit cynical like me, you may be thinking… Well what the hell can Ebony do to tackle one of the biggest global social issues?!?
Well on my own…. absolutely nothing! However I am excited to be going out to Bangladesh with WASH United one of ICC’s charity partners for the World T20. We will be delivering educational workshops on sanitation and hygiene trainings in schools and creating media awareness around the men and women’s tournament.
As you may have guessed I am passionate about sport and using sport as a vehicle for positive social change. I am a massive believer in education as opposed to throwing money at a problem, and therefore really like the WASH United approach to educate as many people as possible with skills that can have a massive impact on health and save lives. WASH United has to date educated over 100,000 children and reached over 280 million people through media and campaigns which is an amazing effort and I am proud to be involved.
I am looking forward to being an ambassador alongside Suresh Raina on this trip and doing my part where I can to help shed light on the issue. I will be blogging, posting pictures and a few youtube videos, so please stay tuned, comment, retweet, like…pin… do whatever you have to do to help me spread the word!
Thanks for your support and I look forward to being in touch soon 🙂