Stories of Change

Top: Ercy and her family outside their new, sanitary toilet. Bottom: The family outside their old toilet.

A savings group means a sanitary toilet for Ercy’s family

Ercy and her family are struggling to overcome poverty. She’s a 33-year-old mother of three. Like most of their neighbors, her family relies on subsistence farming to earn a living, and she and her husband do seasonal construction work to supplement. Their income barely covers their basic expenses. 

In March 2019, Ercy had the chance to join a CWS information session about water, sanitation and hygiene. She learned about how having sanitary toilets would help reduce preventable health risks like diarrhea. Diseases stemming from poor sanitation and hygiene mean time away from work and more money and time spent on medicine and health center visits, all of which make hunger and poverty worse. 

Inspired by what she had learned, Ercy and her husband built their first toilet. But they didn’t have what they needed to succeed, and the toilet failed. “There was no cover on the pit, and the walls were not strong,” Ercy explains. The open pit, awful smell and falling-down bamboo walls all deterred her children from using the latrine. They continued to use fields and streams as bathrooms instead.

But Ercy knew that having a toilet was important for her family, and she was determined to find a way to build one that her children would comfortably use. They didn’t have enough money to buy one…until Ercy joined a CWS-supported savings and loan group. Suddenly, her hope for a sanitary toilet was within reach. Ercy and her husband began saving a little bit of their income each month, pooling it with the group’s savings. She also joined the group’s weaving class and began to make a small additional income with her new skills.

She was eligible for a loan from the group, which she could afford to pay back through her new source of income. Ercy and her husband used the loan to buy materials to build a quality toilet, which they finished in October. “My whole family now uses the toilet,” Ercy says. “My children no longer defecate in the open.” 

We’re proud to work with families like Ercy’s as they take the steps they need towards healthier futures.