In Northern Bangladesh, Habitat for Humanity is helping families upgrade existing unhygienic toilets.
With the support of Australian Aid through the Civil Society WASH Fund, the project has supported local community organisations to set up a revolving loan fund, allowing families to access loans for improved toilets and sanitation facilities. Families pay off the loans over a period of 18-24 months, and as they make repayments, funds can be invested into more loans for more families. Through this model, poor working families are able to access and afford durable toilets which bring dignity and improve health. This includes families like Shahanur’s. This is her story.
“I am Shahanur. I am 31 years old and a housewife. My husband is 45-years-old and works in a poultry farm. We also have four beloved daughters. My eldest daughter is 15-years-old and my youngest is 4. Our family is what you would call a traditional Bangladeshi family.
"However, we weren’t living a comfortable life. We lacked access to a sanitary toilet which is why we often fell sick. We knew that we needed one, but we didn’t have the ability to build a new toilet because of our low income. Through Habitat, I found out about the loan for a new toilet and made the decision to apply for it. I wanted to live in a hygienic environment and prioritise my family’s health. This gave us an opportunity to build a new toilet next to our house.
"Now we are using our own sanitary toilet and my daughters are so happy. Previously, they never felt comfortable going outside to use the toilet at night but now they can use it at any time. They also take care of the toilet like it’s their home. They clean it regularly and wash it with toilet cleaner and bleaching powder. Even my youngest, Afrina, insisted that we purchase a toilet brush.
"We are relieved that our toilet is no longer unsafe and doesn’t have a bad smell. Not only that, we’re no longer getting sick and having a sanitary toilet has helped up improve our hygiene practices. From our family, we want to thank Habitat for helping us build a new toilet!”
This postcard was originally published on the Habitat for Humanity Australia website.