Loo fundraiser in Wakefield helps buy toilets for poor people across the globe
A spend a penny scheme has raised more than £1,000 for toilet facilities in Africa, Asia and Central America.
A women’s group in Wakefield raised the sum for the Toilet Twinning charity by donating five pence every time they went to the loo from early October to World Toilet Day on November 19.
The ‘5p2p’ initiative by Soroptimist International of Wakefield (SI Wakefield) netted £1,080 and was enough to buy latrines in Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and South Sudan. It also helped fund water taps in Guatemala, Malawi and Nepal, plus school blocks in Pakistan and Malawi and other facilities.
Club members were also delighted to provide for a toilet block in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Judith Alce, immediate past president of SI Wakefield, said: “It is the biggest refugee camp in the world. It’s in Bangladesh and it’s where the Rohingya people from Myanmar fled to from the conditions they were under. We put a toilet block in there because the conditions in that particular refugee camp are absolutely atrocious.”
She added: “I think the whole club is particularly proud of the fact that we put that toilet block in that refugee camp.”
The 5p donation fee that members chipped in per toilet visit is also symbolic as it also represents Soroptimist’s five pledges of people, prosperity, peace, partnership and planet. The Soroptimist’s global mission is to transform the lives and status of women and girls through education, empowerment and enabling opportunities.
Such toilets and taps not only bring obvious health benefits but they can also help people feel safer too. Judith, who has travelled to Africa with Soroptimists in the past, said women and girls were extremely vulnerable to attack when they went to spend a penny in the wild. She added: “To give a village a toilet or two toilets - one specifically for men and another for women - is to give safety to women and girls who need to go to the toilet during the day and night. It is not always safe for them to go to the toilet.”
SI Wakefield also teamed up with the Well Women’s Centre in Wakefield who sponsored the toilet in South Sudan. SI Wakefield members have raised money for Toilet Twinning before. Programme Action Officer Amanda Potts highlighted the charity to Judith, who was club president at the time, and asked if people wanted to raise money for it as it costs £60 to build a toilet. Judith said: “Quite a few of us did. I actually emailed Amanda after the meeting and said, ‘I’ve broken open my new shoes piggy bank and I had £58 in there. And by adding another two pounds, I could buy a toilet.”
Judith sponsored a loo in Katete in the Eastern Province of Zambia. In return she got a framed twinning certificate showing her African toilet and its GPS coordinates.
She said: “I presume if you were to put it into Google Earth you would find it, which I will one of these days when I can go back down to the library and use their computers. I will say to one of the ladies, ‘I need to go on Google Earth because I want to find a toilet’, and see what she says.”
Judith is even more pleased at their most recent fundraising. Cheques kept dropping on their treasurer’s doormat in the run up to Christmas. It amounted to an “absolutely brilliant” total of just over £1,000 for Toilet Twinning who were also informed of the ‘5p2p’ format. Judith added: “I think they were very amused because it’s such a simple thing to do.”
This is not the first time Soroptimists in Wakefield have raised money by spending a penny.
A few years ago they fundraised for Water Aid by using a ‘1p2p’ format.
They resurrected the idea but upped it to ‘5p2p’ because of inflation, said immediate past president Judith Alce .
The sum also reflects the Five Ps: People, Prosperity, Peace, Partnership and Planet, which are the organisation’s wider goals.
Judith said the idea to help Toilet Twinning came from Project Action officer Amanda Potts when she was outlining different projects they could help.
Judith also thought it was something club members could do while in lockdown until World Toilet Day on November 19. The UN event raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation.
She said: “What I asked them to do was to make a note of every time they went to the toilet in a 24-hour period. Then they had to multiply it by the number of days from the beginning of October to World Toilet Day.”
They then had to send cheques to the club’s treasurer, Sallie Drummond, who would tally the amount. Judith added: “The cheques started coming in and the amounts varied, which is understandable because some people go more than others. Just before Christmas, Sallie told us that we had raised £1,080, which was absolutely brilliant.”