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#WorldToiletDay: Here’s What It’s Like To Live Without One

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#WorldToiletDay: Here's What It's Like To Live Without One

Today is World Toilet Day, a chance to think about the billions of people in the world who don’t have toilets. People like me.

I grew up in an informal settlement in Kenya in the 1970s. When nature called, my only option was to visit the community toilets. These were toilets you squat over. You’d pour in water but there was no flush. And they were housed in a shed.

To get there, I had to walk 10 minutes, stand in the queue for my turn and be vigilant about my safety. At crowded times, like in the morning and evening, I might have to wait 10 minutes. The people in line would be dancing to keep from peeing and complaining about how the people using the toilets were taking too long.

In sum, a toilet was a facility I could only access with great difficulty.

It was also filthy. The toilets were never cleaned. One had to master special maneuvers to avoid messing oneself with human waste found inside. Since there was no toilet paper, people would wipe their hands on the walls. If you were wearing a sweater, you learned to remove it before entering — or else the stench would stick with you. And for this experience, I had to pay a shilling per visit, money that was not available readily.

There was nothing worse than getting an upset stomach due to bad food or water. This meant visiting the toilet many times in a day.

I say “day” because, for a girl, visiting the toilet at night can be very risky. Walking in the dark gives men opportunities to prey on young girls — to molest or rape them. My friends and I were terrified of this possibility and never ventured out between dusk and dawn.

Jane Otai grew up with no toilet in her family home. She'd try not to drink water so she could avoid visits to the unappealing community toilet.

Jane Otai grew up with no toilet in her family home. She’d try not to drink water so she could avoid visits to the unappealing community toilet.

So how did we cope?

We developed several strategies over time. We avoided drinking water at all costs, which of course is not healthy. Sometimes we would go to a restaurant and pretend to be waiting for a friend to have an excuse to use the toilet. Then we would leave when the friend couldn’t make it after all. Another option was to visit a church compound that had a toilet and pretend we had come for prayers. We also would use a plastic shopping bag, especially at night, and throw it in the morning to wherever it will land. This is known as the flying toilet.

You might think the toilets would be better in school, but they were not. The facilities were horrible. For safety reasons and privacy, one girl had to stand guard at the doorway for another to use the toilet. Toilet paper was a status symbol. If you had your own from home, you were considered advanced.

During menstruation, many girls would skip school to stay at home. If they soiled their clothes in front of their peers, there was no place to go and change. My friends and I would often miss two to three days each month just to avoid potential shame. Although this affected attendance and performance among girls, I don’t remember this issue being addressed by the school. It was seen as normal, and no effort was made to help the girls catch up with the lessons they had missed. This was the time that many girls dropped out. I stayed in school, but it was not easy.

In order for a school to be a place where pupils can learn, there must be clean toilet facilities to keep students safe from embarrassment. One reason I chose to go to Makerere University in Uganda was the fact that I knew well-lit toilet facilities were within easy reach. I could not only acquire education but also have access to the toilet whenever I needed. And at last, I was able to drink water all the time without worrying.

Many of the Sustainable Development Goals endorsed by the U.N. this year hinge on girls gaining an education. We need to recognize that in many regions of the world, that hinges on creating facilities such as toilets and hand-washing stations and providing a supply of sanitary pads for students. This would go a long way in ensuring that girls feel confident at school and look forward to attending classes.

As we celebrate World Toilet Day, let us focus on sensitizing communities and schools about this issue. Let’s acknowledge that it is a big challenge for children living in informal settlements and do what we can – including building pit latrines near households and constructing clean toilets at schools.

I now live in a house with my husband and three children — and we have four toilets. They’re clean and nice! That’s the dream for everybody.

Entrepreneur, contributor, writer, and editor of Sostre News. With a powerful new bi-lingual speaking generation by his side, Sostre News is becoming the preferred site for the latest in Politics, Entertainment, Sports, Culture, Tech, Breaking and World News.

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Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

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Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Would you pay $1200 a month for a bunk bed in a shared space? Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are opting for pods in communal home with a desk, locker and personal TV

With the cost of rent continuing to rise, some Americans are taking unusual measures to find a place to sleep.

In Los Angeles and San Francisco, where prices are particularly exorbitant, people have taken to renting bunk beds in communal homes.

PodShare, which provides 10 to 15 co-ed bunkbeds in six locations across California, is hoping to help solve the affordable housing crisis.

The beds can be rented from $35 to $50 a night, which amounts to between $1,050 and $1500 for one month.

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

The beds can be rented from $35 to $50 a night, which amounts to between $1,050 and $1500 for one month. Pictured: Bunkbeds at a PodShare location

 

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Every ‘pod’ comes with a bed that turns into a desk, individual power outlets, a locker, a shelf and a personal TV. Pictured: A resident at one of the PodShare locations

It’s no secret that housing prices have rapidly spiked over the last decade and incomes have not kept up

One 2018 study published found that only about one-third of millennials currently own homes.

This is fewer than the number of Generation Xers and baby boomers who owned homes when they were the same age.

And a study conducted by Harvard University this year found that one-in-three Americans can’t afford to pay rent.

It’s unsurprising considering that, in cities such as San Francisco, the average rent for an apartment is about $3,900.

But for $1,200, if you rent with PodShare everyone gets a bed that turns into a desk, individual power outlets, a locker, a shelf and a personal TV.

Each location also provides a communal living room, food such as cereal, toiletries such as toilet paper, laundry machines and WiFi access, reported CNN.

Tenants are known as ‘pod-estrians’.

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Additionally, each location has a communal living room, a kitchen (pictured), laundry machines and WiFi access. Pictured: One of the kitchens

 

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

The company was founded in 2012 by 34-year-old Elvina Beck. Pictured: One of the communal workspaces

Although the set-up may seem like an adult dormitory or a hostel, the company uses the term ‘co-living’.

‘PodShare makes life more affordable because there is no security deposit or cost of furnishings and we provide flexible living,’ co-founder Elvina Beck told Vice in 2016.

‘Pod life is the future for singles which are not looking to settle down, but focus on their startups and experience something new.’

There are no curtains to close off the beds, and the only doors are to the bathroom, reported Time Out Los Angeles.

Although there’s no privacy, pod-residents are willing to exchange that for affordability or a reduced travel time to work.

Beck, 34, told CNN that she founded the company in 2012 because she wanted to meet new people and provide housing security to others.

‘Maybe they don’t have two months’ rent to put down or they don’t have proof of income,’ she said.

‘Whether it’s from a divorce or their family kicked them out for being gay or because they’re in a different country or a different city.’

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Beck says that most of the early residents were between ages 24 and 30, and that now they are in their late 20s or early 30s. Pictured: Lockers at one PodShare location

 

Renters in Los Angeles and San Francisco are Paying $1200 a Month for a Bunk Bed in a Shared Space

Hard rules that each tenant must follow include: lights have to be off by 10pm, no guests are allowed and tenants can’t have sex. Pictured: Bunkbeds at one PodShare location

She told CNN that, when she began PodShare, most residents were between ages 24 and 30. Today, however, most ‘tenants’ are in their late 20s or early 30s.

Additionally, many of the early residents were young adults who had just moved to a new city. But many new residents are older adults and even those traveling on business.

However, there some rules that people are required to follow. Lights have to be off by 10pm, no guests are allowed and tenants can’t have sex.

‘You can’t invite any friends over,’ Beck told CNN. ‘Sorry. Just make new ones here.’

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Caretaker Ties a Wheelchair-Bound Pensioner to a Tree by The Neck

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Caretaker Ties a Wheelchair-Bound Pensioner to a Tree by The Neck

Shocking footage of a wheelchair-bound pensioner being tied to a tree by the neck by a caretaker has sparked controversy in China.

The caretaker claimed to have no other way but to bind her frail client with a rope because she had to rush back home to deal with family emergency.

Furious onlookers demanded the caretaker free the pensioner immediately. The domestic worker defended her act by calling the incident ‘no big deal’.

The video was reportedly shot in Beijing recently, according to local news outlet Btime.com.

Related: Killer Snatched Girl, 11, Suffocated Her Then Dumped Corpse in Sewer

The pensioner appeared extremely distressed throughout the video and could not speak clearly.

One angry male passer-by accused the caretaker: ‘How would you feel if your daughter treated you like this?’

He criticised the caretaker and said she should bring the pensioner with her.

The caretaker replied: ‘[If I had] pushed her back, she would tell [on me].’

Another female bystander pointed out that the pensioner neck had turned red because of the rough treatment.

After being lambasted by eyewitnesses, the caretaker untied the pensioner and pushed her away.

Authority said the clip had been uploaded onto the social media by residents in a neighbourhood called Nanyuan on the outskirts of southern Beijing.

But they had not been able to identify the exact location of the incident or track down the individuals involved.

Police have been alerted of the video and launched an investigation, according to Beijing Evening News.

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Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

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Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

“Calming the Canines,” at Maricopa County Animal Care and Control (MCACC), is a new Independence Day tradition.

Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

Last year, over 300 people from the community showed up at the shelter’s two locations around Phoenix, Arizona.

It was overwhelming to see how the community responded. It really helped spread our message that MCACC is here to help.

Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

Amy Engel, who attended Calming the Canines last year said that she definitely plans on attending this year, too.

Engel wrote about her experience last year

Some people sang to them, some people read to them, some people just sat there and gave treats! It was so, so awesome because the dogs absolutely love the attention and were focused on the people and not the fireworks going on outside.

Comforting Shelter Dogs During Fireworks Is The New Independence Day Tradition

MCACC wrote:

Many participants developed lasting relationships with the shelter, returning to provide foster care, adopt a pet or volunteer.

The shelter suggests people to bring blankets to sit on, or folding chairs, and to let the dog or cat approach them to sit calmly and quietly.

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