Helping with Ghana’s big dream to give families compost toilets

DZITA, Ghana — Dream Big Ghana, an non-governmental organization (NGO) here, is working to build compost toilets for families in need. Five other students and I spent the previous two weeks working with the group to construct two such toilets for the community.

As of now, there are more than eighty families on the waiting list for the organization’s toilets.

Dream Big Ghana has already built 85 compost toilets for families in this town. The toilets save water and can help prevent major health issues from occurring. One of the best things about the toilets is they are sustainable and can last from five to seven years if well maintained. This allows communities to focus on what really matters: family and education. Toilets can help move a nation from developing to developed.

Many people in developing countries do not have access to the seemingly limitless supply of water we take for granted. They face ongoing problems with sanitation. Sanitary facilities are vital to keeping a community healthy and clean. Many families around the world don’t have running water and toilets.

Without toilets, many are left with no other option but to openly defecate. This leads to diarrhoeal disease and other sicknesses that can become serious and can kill. Diarrhoeal disease results in 1.5 million children dying every year. In addition, the lack of privacy can lead to increased assaults on women and girls.

We tend not to realize how much water we use. On average, a person in the U.S. spends 8.2 minutes in the shower under the hot water. Believe it or not, it only takes one bucket of water to have a bath that will get the job done.

In my experience in Ghana, the community was warm-hearted, friendly—it’s rare to pass a stranger without waving—and a place I never wanted to leave. I learned so much about public health and have discovered a different perspective on life. Seeing families that don’t have things we take for granted—like an accessible toilet—smiling so bright made me realize that we create our own happiness. This is a place that I will never forget. I hope to come back to witness more change.