Well everybody, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: world toilet day. When we gather together with our families and loved ones to …

Actually. You know what? You can make your own jokes here. Giving lectures about diarrhea to rooms full of giggling elementary school children is one thing. Unleashing toilet humor on unsuspecting blog readers is quite another. Not going to touch it with a ten-foot choo support beam. Instead, I’m going to direct you to my three-part blog series about World Water Day (|Part 1||Part 2||Part 3|), which covers general sanitation issues, plus my games day with my health classes. Knock yourselves out.

I will tell one quick anecdote, though, so bear with me:

During Peace Corps training, we would spend the mornings doing language class and the afternoons doing “technical,” which covered everything from community integration strategies to how printing “be prompt!” at the bottom of a meeting schedule is the most absurd waste of ink since hair dryer manufacturers added “Do Not Use While Sleeping” to their instruction sheets. One particular day, a training manager was lecturing about the importance of the language we use when speaking with members of our community. “Don’t be afraid to use colloquialisms if you want to be understood,” he told us softly. “Use the words the community uses. Otherwise they will think you are some … nini semaje, some pretentious intellectual who doesn’t understand their problems. If you are talking about latrines, don’t tell them about ‘defecation,’ tell them about SHIT. Don’t tell them about ‘urination,’ tell them about PISS.”

If we’d been dozing before, we weren’t anymore. He captured everyone’s attention, and as we shifted uncomfortably on our benches and clutched our metaphorical pearls, he threw out a couple of useful slang Swahili words we could employ for the purpose.

It should be a shock to no one that he wasn’t just pulling our leg. Sanitation is, for many, a life-or-death issue, so why NOT make sure everyone understands? Below is a full page (righthand side, blinding color) in the Saturday edition of the nation’s largest and most respected newspaper, the Daily Nation. Complete with festive rhymes!


Click for a larger view


Now, with that queasy thought rattling around in your head, I leave you to enjoy the rest of your weekend with the following housekeeping note: I’m heading out tomorrow to do a training and won’t be back for almost a week, so I’m afraid there won’t be any new blog content for a little while. If this page goes quiet for the next ten days or so, please don’t assume I’ve been eaten by pirates. (Although I suppose that’s always a possibility.)

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