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Where Are All the Toilets? Sanitation in San Miguel Viejo!

By Elsmarie Norby

If you’re tired of politics and terrorism, here’s a news flash that should make you smile: China and India are in a race to see which country can build the most toilets for their populations. (Google “China and India building toilets.”) Closer to home, the much smaller population of the rural community of San Miguel Viejo is also lacking sanitary facilities in most of the dwellings.

Ojalá Niños is a nonprofit education program that serves most of the children and their families and has grown to have classes every weekday afternoon at two locations: my home and the home of my neighbor, Verónica Ramírez.

Early on, we were able to let children use our facilities, but it became an untenable situation when every child had to “go” two or three times during one class session! We needed a full-time person to be a bathroom monitor. Over these last six years, we’ve laid floors over dirt, built roofs over floors, and supplied clean drinking water, healthy food snacks, and lots of hand gel for 200 really dirty hands. We recently put in a sink at my house with running water and real soap. Yes, this is exciting for the children.

But we need toilets! We no longer ask, a donde vas? when a child runs out into the campo and returns a few minutes later. This is what they do all the time, but for us it’s no longer an option. Making eco toilets and a washing up place, where so many children spend so much time, is mandatory for the program and will also set an example for the families. We can help them do this for themselves.

We have an architect who has volunteered with the plans for the toilets. Now we need the materials and the helping hands. We’re not in China . . . we’re not in India . . . we’re hiking distance from the center of San Miguel de Allende! We need a few toilets that will literally change the lives of over 100 children and their families.

If you want to be a part of this really important venture, please contact me: Elsmarie Norby,


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