Toilets, Nerds, and the Importance of Advocacy

Last Friday November 19 was Path. End the Neglect was there to capture Hope on film (which we will have up shortly), and shes been kind enough to provide us a blog post below:

Reprinted with permission from DefeatDD.org.

By: Hope Randall, Program Assistant for PATH’s diarrheal disease communications and advocacy team

I spent last Friday evening group of nerds about the deadly global impact of diarrheal disease and the solutions to defeat it.

Public speaking doesn’t typically make me nervous, but on Friday, I took advantage of my free drink ticket before taking the stage to talk to a group of young DC professionals about diarrhea. While this topic is familiar enough in global health circles, I’m never quite certain how the public at large will react. Will they laugh without taking the message seriously? Wrinkle their noses in disgust? Lose attention completely?

My concerns were completely unwarranted. As I presented “The Scoop on Poop,” we laughed together at potty humor and edgy communications strategies, then easily segued to the heart of the matter: that while we have the luxury of laughing about toilets and poop jokes, children around the world are dying from a lack of World Toilet Day and the crowd whooped and cheered.

When I outlined the basic facts that show how diarrheal disease prevention and treatment interventions are simple, proven, and cost-effective, one audience member expressed surprise that decision makers weren’t already making these investments, especially give the potential impact for such a low cost. Another asked for a list or organizations that would accept donations to this cause.

For me, the experience underscored the importance of initiatives like take action. It is amazing to me that whether it’s Western Province, Kenya, or Washington, DC, education is critical. With information in their hands, the people will do the rest.

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