Diabolical Diarrhea

This World Health Day, I've got something on my mind: Diarrhea.

It may be one of the most visceral words in the English language. All it takes is four little syllables, and my mind's eye is immediately taken with images of splattering, squirting and sputtering explosions. It's a juvenile blend of disgust and delight that calls forth squeals of laughter; I suddenly find myself in the backseat of the car doing Mad Libs with my sister, making razzberries on my arm, or hoping that another member of my Oregon Trail family will get sick and die from dysentery (even though, as it turns out, they're not actually the same thing).

While it's called Montezuma's Revenge for a reason, the burning squirts can also be a lot of fun. Take the time I told my sister's entire 5th grade class that she was home sick with explosive diarrhea (well, don't take it, but check out the guest blog I wrote about it for DefeatDD.org).  Or the old children's song about it--you know, "Diarrhea, Diarrhea"?  As it turns out, that song not only lives on in our memories, but is enjoying an internet renaissance at The Official Diarrhea Song blog. In fact, they have dozens of original verses for your singing pleasure and a 5-step guide to help you craft the perfect stanza. Three of my favorites:

When you don’t feel like a winner and your butt blows out your dinner: Diarrhea, diarrhea.

When you’re lounging by the pool and your ass begins to drool: Diarrhea, diarrhea.

When you're miles from anywhere, and your bowels just don't care: Diarrhea, diarrhea.

Disgusting AND hilarious, right? Yet in many parts of the world, it's no laughing matter. In fact, 4,000 children will die from diarrheal disease today, as this poignant WaterAid video points out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtwBxrcPnoc

So what can you do about it?

Learn more. Visit DefeatDD.org or WaterAid for information and to get involved in the great work they're doing to bring effective, sustainable sanitation solutions around the world.

Wash your hands. Whether at home or abroad, hand washing with soap is the most cost-effective healthcare approach available, preventing the spread of disease and--BONUS!--making your fingers smell nice.

Spread the word! It's not hard to start a dialogue about diarrhea. Try posting it to your Facebook, Tweeting it, or starting an office sing-along of the old schoolyard song. At the very least, it'll be good for a laugh.

Wishing you all the best this World Health Day and, as always, peaceful pooping.

Shawn "The Puru" Shafner

World Toilet Day Gone Down the Drain

To all the performers, volunteers and hip New Yorkers who came out to make World Toilet Day New York a huge success: THANK YOU!!  The place was packed with Bacchanalian revelers singing, dancing, and worshiping at the altar of the Porcelain God.  I was one proud Puru to stand in front of so many poopers all gathered in one place.  (See them all practicing their squats on our Facebook fan page or Flickr stream!) For those almost three hours, we managed to create a supportive community where the most private and embarrassing details of our lives become commonplace conversation.  By the end of the night, not a thigh muscle was left unstrained as people proudly squatted in solidarity with our toilet-less brothers and sisters.  Not to mention that we raised $652.08, which will all go towards producing outreach materials and bringing a one-man shit show to the Edinburgh International Fringe in 2011.

We've got a great flow going, now let's keep it moving!

There are many different sides to the sanitation question--domestic, international, environmental, sociological--but in honor of World Toilet Day, here are a few ways to get educated and get involved in empowering the developing world with a proper place to put their poo.

BROWSE: The UN's Water For Life initiative gives a great overview with links to many other resources.  Water.org, although they couch sanitation as a water issue, also offers a very accessible primer. Lastly, Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council gives an in-depth overview on many of the key sanitation issues facing the developing world. For some quick statistics, take a look at WaterAid and these UN graphs and maps.

WATCH: Adam Yamaguchi of Vanguard explores the World Toilet Crisis first-hand in this 45 min. documentary.  (More from Vanguard on the subject here.) These five videos won the USAID Environmental Health Sanitation Video Contest--five very inspiring takes on how to convince a community that toilets are important.

READ: Journalist Rose George's 2009 book, The Big Necessity, is a thorough and well-written introduction to the complicated world of both domestic and international sanitation.  2008 was declared the International Year of Sanitation, something UNICEF commemorated by co-publishing The Last Taboo, an in-depth account by Maggie Black and Ben Fawcett of how the crisis came to be, and how progress is and is not being made.

DO: Get together with your family, roommates or co-workers to fund a latrine in Burundi through ToiletTwinning.org--like sponsoring a child but a little different.  Consider donating to the World Toilet Organization, the people who sponsor World Toilet Day and serve as the number one advocate on behalf of the toilet-less.

MOST IMPORTANT: Lift the lid, unlock the stall door, and SPEAK UP for those who haven't got a pot to piss in.  Literally.

Wishing you all a year of peaceful pooping, until World Toilet Day 2012.

The Puru

 

And some videos to whet your appetite:

World Toilet Day in NYC

Like a march on Washington, only different...

Celebrate sanitation at World Toilet Day on Friday, November 19th in New York City!

The POOP Project invites you to join us in one of the many World Toilet Day events happening around the world, featuring an interactive evening honoring the miracle of modern sanitation while remembering that 40% of the world still lives without it.

Why toilets?

While not everybody needs the standard porcelain fixture we're familiar with in the West, everyone needs a safe, sanitary place to put their poo.  The 2.6 billion people around the world without toilets wind up doing their business in fields, alleys and local waterways--which means poop winds its way back onto people, leading to a host of illnesses including cholera, giardia, typhoid and plain ol' diarrhea--which kills one child in the developing world every 15 seconds.

Even though sanitation kills more people than tuberculosis, malaria and HIV combined, it gets far less press because the toilet is taboo.  Which is why we're asking people to come out of the water closet and come on down to celebrate the plumbing that makes our lives possible.

World Toilet Day New York

Come Home Sweet Home to drink dirty martinis, give a "commode confessional", and check out authentic "flying toilets."  Write your thoughts on a stall wall, submit a secret to our privy chamber pot, and take a picture of your poo face in prep for The Big Squat--a minute of thigh-straining solidarity with the toiletless.

Shawn "The Poop Guru" Shafner and Josh Sitron will be your hosts for the evening, with sounds, stories, and unmentionables provided by Moth storyteller and comedian Sara Barron along with word mavens Amy Carrigan, Adam Laupus and Lisa Lewis, singer-songwriters Avi Fox-Rosen, Megan Gerlach, Ben Lerman, Brian Carter, and Hilary Schwartz PLUS buxom burlesque beauty Minnie Tonka and much more!

WHERE: Home Sweet Home, 131 Chrystie Street, New York, NY DATE/TIME: Friday, Nov. 19, 2010.  7:30 pm Doors, 8:30 pm Performances, 9:45 pm Big Squat, 10:00 pm Closing TICKETS: $15.00 tickets online, $18.00 at the door.  Limited supply $3 drink tickets good for draft beer and well drinks.

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS!

CLICK HERE TO READ OUR PRESS RELEASE

All proceeds benefit The People's Own Organic Power Project (The POOP Project) in their mission to creative poop-positive spaces that spur creative thinking towards sustainable sanitation solutions for all.

(Porta-potty photo by AnyaLogic, licensed under Creative Commons. Big Squat banner property of the World Toilet Organization.)