On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten lords-a-leaping.
According to Jesus in John 10:10, He came so that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. With a mission to respond to Christ’s call to love and serve the poor, we at Opportunity consider daily how we can love our clients in the most transformative and meaningful ways.
One of the myriad ways that we show His love is by providing the necessary tools that allow our clients to build new futures – futures overflowing with dignity. We believe that every person has an innate right to be valued, respected and to receive fair treatment as an extension of their inalienable rights. People have a right to achieve something on their own and feel proud of their success. Dignity allows our clients to live fully in abundance, positioning them to change their own lives and positively impact everyone they encounter along their journey. A women empowered is a women who changes everything for her children and future generations. With grace and dignity.
Is a toilet transformational? Yep!
Is it stretching too far to say that a toilet or women’s sanitary products bring dignity and that dignity reveals itself in a wholly transformative effect that changes whole communities – introducing abundance into places once rife with disease and despair? The answer is no. It’s not too far a stretch; I have witnessed it for myself through the eyes of Opportunity International. A toilet or sanitary pad becomes a catalyst of sustainable change in the hands of a woman who grasps at a mere whisper of opportunity and shouts it from the rooftops. Like she does, her neighbors stand a little taller, smile a little more often and allow themselves to dream of what step they can conquer next on their climb up a ladder that will certainly lead to a rich future with less poverty and more cause to rejoice.
In India, just over 10% of people have access to toilets, while the remainder is forced to openly defecate. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of India’s diarrheal disease is the result of poor sanitation and contaminated drinking water. Nearly 80% of the women do not use sanitary products due to lack of availability and awareness as well as poverty. (Sourced from 2011 United Nations Millennium Development Goal Report.)
How Opportunity addressed this challenge
In 2010, Opportunity International partnered with Healing Fields as a solution to address the chief health challenges expressed by our beloved women clients. Founded in 2000, Healing Fields is recognized as a pioneer in community health education.
In addition to funding the installation of toilets and other clean water, sanitation and health efforts, we partner with Healing Field’s Community Health Facilitator program to identify Opportunity’s women clients who possess the potential to become Community Health Facilitators within their underprivileged villages. Through this partnership, 200 Opportunity women clients have successfully completed Healing Fields health facilitator training, learning the basics of health education including nutrition, illness prevention, and the importance of careful dosing medication. Today, Opportunity health facilitators are agents of change within their communities who have made a lasting impact on at least 290,000 families. Opportunity aims to impact up to 600,000 families with improved sanitation and healthcare by the end of 2017. We will achieve this by expanding the program into Northern India and we are poised to pilot the program with two partners in Indonesia.