As Ife cleaned the toilet, she thought of how lucky these people were who could afford to travel and stay in fancy hotels when there were so many people there in Kampala who don’t have the luxury of private toilets. Her daughter went to a school which didn’t have any toilets. This meant that she had to use the bushes as a washroom.
Just recently, Ife’s ex-husband was charged and fined when he was caught urinating against a wall outside of a government building because there wasn’t anywhere else to go. The toilets in buildings were locked and they wouldn’t let people off the streets use them. She, herself was caught using this one by the Japanese businessman who occupied this suite. In order for her to keep her job which she needed in order to support her daughter and herself and to use the toilet, she had to agree to his proposition.
She heard him now moving about in the bedroom. He called out to her. She flushed the toilet, washed her hands and joined him. He was lying in the bed, waiting for her. She took a deep breath and got undressed.
Two hours later, she went home.
This story is in recognition of World Toilet Day which is today, Nov. 19. Apparently, the toilet crisis is most severe in parts of Africa and Asia. One in five primary schools and one in eight secondary schools globally don’t have any toilets, according to WaterAid. World Toilet Day addresses the plight of millions who don’t have access to proper access to sanitation and whose lives are at risk. The goal is to ensure that everyone has access to a safe toilet by 2030.
This was written as part of Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here. To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.
“When you went off on a missionary trip to Africa, we certainly didn’t expect you to come back with a wife,” Mrs. Cartland exclaimed, her expression one of disdain as she looked at her son.
Rolf sighed. “Naija isn’t my wife, Mother. I’m not sure why you think she is. I’m sure I was clear in my letter that if I didn’t do something, she was going to be taken out of school and married off to a man old enough to be her grandfather. In Nigeria, girls like Naija and younger are given in marriage without their consent.”
“And so you decide to bring her to England. What about her parents? I can’t imagine that they would let you just whisk their daughter away like that.”
“Her parents and I came up with an arrangement which will benefit all parties. They were going to give her away in marriage because they are poor and need the money. The man they were going to marry her to, has money but I offered them more money in exchange for marriage that Naija come to England instead. I will put her through university. After, she graduates, it is up to her if she wants to remain here or return to Nigeria. Her parents agreed that if she should return, she is not expected to be married off but can get a job so she could continue to support them. While she is here, I will send money to them on a regular basis to keep them.”
“You’re going to send them money?” Mrs. Cartland was aghast. “And how long do you propose to do that?”
“Until Naija can afford to support them herself.”
“And when exactly will that be?”
“When she finds steady employment after graduating from university.”
“I fear, my Dear, that she’s going to take advantage of your generosity and you will find yourself supporting her for longer than is necessary. You’re far too indulgent and gullible when it comes to the dregs of society.”
Rolf’s lips tightened but he held his temper in check. “Mother, I appreciate your concern, but Naija isn’t like that at all.”
Mrs. Cartland didn’t look at all convinced and was about to say something else when her daughter, Rosalind spoke up. “Rolf, let’s go for a walk. It looks absolutely gorgeous outside. Mother, please excuse us.”
Grateful for the interruption, he rose to his feet and after excusing himself, he followed her out of the room. “Thank you for that,” he said to Rosalind as they walked down the hallway.
She glanced at him. “No problem. I could see that you were trying very hard not to blow your top. And Mother can be very irritating at times.”
Rosalind laughed. “All right. Most of the time.”
Rolf’s lips twitched. They were outside now and it was a gorgeous day. “Let’s take a walk by the stream.”
“What a splendid idea!”
The stream was about a ten minute walk from the family’s mansion. “Do you remember when Dad used to bring us here on a Sunday morning? While he and I fished, you fed the ducks pieces of bread from the egg and cheese sandwiches Mrs. Hogwarth made?”
“Yes and I remember getting pecked by one of them and Dad had to bandage my hand with his handkerchief. I was scared of the ducks after that.”
“Yes, that’s how Mrs. Hogwarth found out that you fed her sandwiches to them and she clobbered you.”
“Yes, I was scared of her after then too. Oh, Rolf, what a riotous childhood we had. I miss Dad.”
“I miss him too.”
“He would be so proud of you, being a missionary and all. It was something he himself loved. He always regretted leaving the field when he married Mother. She never understood his love for it. She preferred being the wife of a government minister rather a missionary’s.”
“I love being in full-time ministry, helping communities in London and overseas. It’s how I met Naija.”
“You’re in love with Naija, aren’t you?” Rosalind commented, looking at him closely.
He blushed. Nothing ever escaped her. “Yes,” he admitted quietly.
“I see the way you look and act around her.”
“Can you imagine how Mother would react if she knew?”
Rosalind waved her hand dismissively. “It doesn’t matter what Mother or anyone else thinks, Rolf. You have to follow your heart. It’s your life, your future and your happiness that are at stake here. Remember, Mother wanted me to marry Reginald but I married Maxwell instead? Reginald was a good man but I didn’t love him. I was mad about Maxwell and we have been happily married for twenty-six years now.”
“I think you made an excellent choice. Maxwell is an exceptional man.”
“Thank you and yes, he is. Does Naija know how you feel about her?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“Don’t you think that perhaps it’s time you told her?”
His heart lurched. “I don’t know,” he said in alarm.
“Come on, Rolf, don’t be such a coward. Sometimes, happiness comes by taking chances. I took a chance with Maxwell and looked how that turned out.”
What she said made a lot of sense but the thought of revealing his feelings to Naija was daunting. He would have to think about it some more. “I’ll think about it,” he said after a while.
Rosalind slipped her arm through his and smiled. “All right,” she said. “Sleep on it, then.” They continued walking alongside the river, enjoying the sunshine and the quietness.
Naija was already at the park, waiting when Rolf got there the following afternoon. He had just come from a staff meeting. She smiled when she saw him and the large brown paper bag in his hand. He smiled as he sat down beside her. “Have you been waiting long?” he asked.
She shook her head. “No. I got here about five minutes ago. Thanks for getting this. I’m starving.”
He opened the bag and took out a box of Fish and Chips and handed it to her along with a plastic knife and fork. He took out the other box. On the bench between them, he put the cups of flavored milk tea and the straws. After he said Grace, they tucked into the food. It tasted as good as it looked and smelled. As they ate, they talked about different things. And all the while, he was thinking about what Rosalind had said. He wanted to tell Naija how he felt but he was terrified.
“What’s wrong?” Naija’s question startled him.
“Nothing,” was his quick response. A pause and then, wanting to shift the attention away from himself, he asked, “What are you plans after you graduate from university? Will you stay here in England or return home to your family?”
She thought about it. “I’ll stay here,” she said. “I’ll find a job or I can become a missionary and work for you.”
“Being a missionary is an admirable vocation but what are your dreams? What would you really like to do with your life, Naija?”
“I like writing. I like to write about what I see around me.”
“Sounds like you’re thinking of becoming a journalist. That’s very good. Perhaps, you’ll let me see some of your writings.”
“I will,” she promised. “I keep a journal. It’s almost full. I write about university, what I observe on the campus, what I hear on the News and the conversations I have had with my host family. I’ve written a lot of things about you as well.”
His eyebrows arched. “Really? And what exactly have you written about me?”
“How you’ve been so good to me and how blessed I am that you came into my life. I will always be indebted to you, Rolf.”
A muscle began to throb along his jawline. “I’m the one who’s blessed,” he replied. Their eyes were locked. His heart was racing. This is foolish, he thought. I’m behaving like a lovesick fool over a girl almost half my age. She just sees me as her benefactor, nothing more. All she feels towards me is gratitude.
“That isn’t all I wrote about you,” she said shyly.
He swallowed hard. “What else did you write about me?”
She looked nervous now. “Rolf, I know that I’m only eighteen years old but, I–I was hoping that our age difference wouldn’t matter to you.”
“What are you saying, Naija?”
“What-what I’m saying, is-is that I want us to-to be more than friends.”
He expelled his breath in an unsteady sigh. “Are you sure this is what you want?” he asked, his expression tense.
She nodded at once. “Yes,” she replied. “It’s what I’ve wanted since we met.”
“Oh, Naija,” he cried, his cheeks suffusing with color. He set the empty boxes aside and rose to his feet. He reached down and pulled her up. “It’s what I want too.” He pulled her against him and his eager lips found hers. Overhead the setting sun cast its crimson glow on them.
Imagine this is your daughter fetching water in the container on top of her head. It’s heavy and who knows how long she had to travel to find it. This is the reality of girls in Africa and Asia.
Today is World Water Day and this year’s theme is: Nature for Water – exploring nature-based solutions to the water challenges we face in the 21st century.
According to the World Water Day Organization, “damaged ecosystems affect the quantity and quality of water available for human consumption. Today, 2.1 billion people live without safe drinking water at home; affecting their health, education and livelihoods. Sustainable Development Goal 6 commits the world to ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2030, and includes targets on protecting the natural environment and reducing pollution.”
Preserving nature will keep our water clean and that will benefit us. Polluted environment leads to polluted water which leads to poor health or death. Water is something that many of us take for granted which is a shame in some countries, many people face a water crisis. For them, clean water would be their talisman because it would protect them from diseases which could lead to death.
Water connects every aspect of life. Access to safe water and sanitation can quickly turn problems into potential – unlocking education, work opportunities, and improved health for women, children and families across the world.
Today, 1 in 9 people lack access to safe water; 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet. More people have a mobile phone than a toilet. We can change this.
Check out this video.
I cringe when I see how people waste water. One of my relatives lets the kitchen pipe run while she is busy doing other things. Once when we were visiting her and my husband saw her doing that, he turned off the tap. All that wasted water going down the sink and there are families who don’t have any running water for bathing, washing or cooking. Tap water is better than no water and it can always be boiled.
The water crisis is a women’s crisis. And here’s why:
Women are disproportionately affected by the water crisis, as they are often responsible for collecting water. This takes time away from work, school and caring for family. Lack of water and sanitation lock women in a cycle of poverty.
Empowering women is critical to solving the water crisis. Involving women can make water projects 6 to 7 more times effective. When women have access to safe water, they can pursue skills outside of their traditional roles and experience greater autonomy and independence.
Women and girls spend up to six hours collecting water. They travel long distances to find it and then have to retrace their steps back home, carrying heavy containers.
It is a health crisis because many don’t have access to safe, clean water and as a result, many die from water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases. Having access to safe water will reduce child and maternal mortality rates, improved health, reduced physical injuries from constantly carrying heavy loads of water and reduce the risk of rape, assault and danger and increased safety for women and girls face when they have no choice but to go to remote and dangerous places to relieve themselves.
The water crisis is an education crisis because it is the responsibility of the children to collect water for their families. It reduces their time in class and being able to play. And 1/3 of schools lack access to basic water and sanitation. Can you imagine this happening in your child’s school?
It is an economic crisis. Without access to safe water, families are unable to pursue education and work opportunities that would break the cycle of poverty. The loss of money due to lack of basic water and sanitation is staggering. It is simply amazing how much of a difference access to clean water would make in the lives of so many people.
We are encouraged to take action because everyone should be entitled to safe water.
ADRA Canada is changing lives by providing people with new ways to access, conserve, purify and use water. With your partnership ADRA is able to provide families with life-giving water. You can help provide water to those without.
Watch this video and think about how you would like to help ADRA Canada to give the gift of water.
Imagine walking three miles each day to collect water and the only water available is in filthy ponds or lakes. This water is contaminated with waterborne illnesses but these women have no choice. They don’t have indoor plumbing. They don’t have the privilege of filling pots with water from the kitchen sink and using that water to cook. They don’t have a washer and a dryer to do their laundry. They don’t have bottled or filtered water for drinking. They have dirty water at their disposal. They need this water to cook, wash clothes and drink. This water which is a necessity for them can bring death and sickness to their families.
Look at the ground they have to travel over in order to get this water that is not fit for anything. It looks dry because of the scorching heat. Imagine walking in that heat for three miles and then retracing your steps, carrying heavy buckets and jugs of water seven days a week.
Look at this water. It’s brown. This woman would gladly draw clean water from a well if there was one but she has to settle for this muddy water.
Fetching water is not only exhausting for women and girls but it takes a toll in other areas. Water for the Ages gave these 10 facts on women and water:
Women and children fetch the majority of water for household uses in rural areas. Often this keeps them from attending school or working at a job.
Imagine being pregnant and having to travel a long distance to fetch water. Here’s a video of a woman who suffered miscarriages as a result of fetching drinking water for her family.
This seems so wrong. When I was a child and we had a water shortage, we had to draw water from the pipe in the yard. It was heavy carrying this bucket up the stairs and to the bathroom. I can’t imagine walking for miles with a heavy bucket of water. This is not something that women or girls should be doing. Yet the men are not doing it and some of them are marrying extra women to fetch them water. These women are called, “water wives”.
Reuter’s reporter Danish Siddiqui reports that these “water wives” are often widows or single mothers wishing to “regain respect” in their communities. He notes that they usually do not share the marital bed and often live in separate apartments. But even though many are wives in name only, their labor is essential to their husbands: they must walk through hot temperatures and sticky humidity to communal wells, where they then wait hours for their turn before loading up metal containers and makeshift pitchers with water and lugging them back. Their husband and the village depend on them to take on this time consuming and inconvenient task. However, these women are happy with the arrangement. It’s better than being a widow or abandoned.
Unlike the “water wives” many women in South Asia don’t have access to communal wells. They have to travel far to fetch unclean water. Thankfully, their situation is not hopeless. Through Gospel for Asia, women can get clean water for their families from Jesus’ Wells.
Find out more about how the Lord is using clean water to demonstrate His love for these thirsty people by checking out this link. You can help to improve the health of families by helping Gospel for Asia to provide clean, pure water from a Jesus’ Well.
FGM is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. It is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children. The practice also violates a person’s rights to health, security and physical integrity, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to life when the procedure results in death.
When I read the article in The Daily Mail on Female genital mutilation, I was incensed. I couldn’t believe the reasons behind this barbaric practice.
In some cultures, it is seen as a right of passage into womanhood and a condition of marriage.
Some believe that the genitals will be unclean if the female does not have the procedure.
There is also a common belief that women need to have FGM to have babies.
Egypt has one of the highest rates of female genital mutilation in the world and even thought the practice was criminalized in 2008, it still remains widespread. Up to 92 percent of married women have undergone FGM and most females have the procedure between the ages of nine and 12. Some have it done earlier than nine years old. Can you imagine a five year old girl having part or all of her external genitalia removed? There are no anaesthetics and antiseptic treatments used and FGM is performed with knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass or razor blades. This can lead to severe bleeding and infections which can last a woman her entire lifetime. And it is estimated that 3 million girls are subjected to this barbarism every year in the UK, parts of Africa, Middle East and Asia. And believe it or not, the procedure is usually done by a woman with no medical background.
Girls are going to grow up believing that their genitals are unclean and only a cruel cut can make them clean and fit for marriage. What about the infections that they get or what about those who die from the procedure like the 13 year old Sohair el-Batea? The doctor responsible for her death was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to more than two years in jail. This was a victory for women but more needs to be done. FGM is still being practiced.
According to Egyptian Streets, statistics showed that 30% of married women believe that FGM should be banned but more than half were in favor of the procedure for religious reasons. It’s hard to accept that women would be in favor of such a practice. It is even harder to accept that they would force their daughters, granddaughters, nieces to go through what they themselves had gone through. As a mother, I could never subject my daughter to this. As a woman, I could never bring myself to do this horrible thing to another female.
And which religion would condone this? God created the human body and He put everything in its place for a reason. No one has the right to tamper with nature. How could anyone use religion as an excuse to mutilate young girls and in some cases, babies? And as far as FGM being necessary in order to have babies, that is ludicrious. The reality is that FGM can cause infertility and increase the risk of complications in childbirth.
FGM, known as the “cruel cut” needs to be banned the regions of Africa and countries where it is still common. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that more than three million girls in Africa are at risk. Something needs to be done to stop girls and babies from is done in ignorance and in the name of tradition. Girls should not see the parts of their bodies that is unique to their gender as unclean. No where in the Bible is female circumcision practiced. God never intended for girls and women to be circumcised. It is a man-made procedure and it needs to be outlawed.
I encourage you to watch the video of Leyla Hussein, the founder of Daughters of Eve as she talks to her mother about FGM. You can visit Leyla’s website to find out more information about FGM and see what you can do to stop this cruel and inhumane practice.
I read this inspiring story and just had to share it.
A Life of Influence
Elizabeth Kimongo was born into a traditional Maasai family in Kenya. In her culture girls are expected to marry soon after their twelfth birthday. Women have little to say about their lives, but Elizabeth refused to leave school to marry. She had a dream.
While home for vacation before starting high school, Elizabeth learned that her father had arranged for her to marry an older man. With her mother’s blessing, she escaped and returned to her Adventist school.
During high school Elizabeth took her stand for Christ and later was baptized. When she told her mother that she wanted to study at the Adventist university, her mother encouraged her to go.
Elizabeth is majoring in agriculture, a field that will help her teach her people how to preserve their land and provide a better life. She works on campus and receives some scholarship funds to help her pay her school fees. Sometimes she must take a semester off to work full time to earn the money to continue her studies.
Elizabeth’s example has helped her younger sisters stay in school and avoid early marriage. Her father, once angry that his daughter would refuse to marry the man of his choice, now accepts her decision. But he pressures her younger sisters to marry this man. Elizabeth encourages her sister to walk close to God and continue their studies to make a better life.
Elizabeth urges other Maasai girls to study hard and trust in God. “Don’t allow life’s circumstances to steal your life away,” she says. “Satan wants to destroy you. You must trust God and not let Satan have his way.”
Elizabeth is old enough now that her community will not force her to marry. They accept her as an adult woman who can make her own decisions. “I want to teach my people by example how to produce better crops for a better life,” she says. “The village has given me a piece of land that I use to plant crops so that my fellow villagers can see for themselves the success they can have by following my example.”
Elizabeth is grateful for Adventist schools that have prepared her to live a life of influence among her Maasai people. Our mission offerings and Thirteenth Sabbath Offerings help these schools reach young people in all walks of life, including Maasai girls in the heart of eastern Africa. Thank you.
Elizabeth Kimongo will soon complete her studies and return to her village to work for her people and share God’s love among them.
It takes great courage to follow Jesus Christ and to stand up for your faith. At times it costs people their relationships with family, friends, their jobs or even their lives. For this young Kenyan woman, following Jesus was worth whatever the cost it took to do so. She knew that God had bigger plans for her life than entering into marriage she didn’t want. Education was more important and God’s help and her mother’s support, she was able to achieve what she set out to do. As a result she could now be a blessing to her community and a role model for young girls and women. God, through Elizabeth, was showing the Maasai people that He can do marvelous things among them and give them a bright future.
Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Like Elizabeth we too can make a difference in our community and reveal God’s love in the process. You too can be a beacon of hope. Don’t let fear, insecurity, opposition, doubt or Satan prevent you from pursuing your dream. Continue to put your faith and trust in God and watch Him do wondrous things through you.