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A Sanitation Revolution

Pablo Terceros Vargas is sparking a sanitation revolution in his rural community in Bolivia.

Pablo has lived in the district of Tiraque, Bolivia for his entire life. For the first 32 years of his life, he didn’t have a bathroom.

According to Water For People’s monitoring, almost half of the district’s 33,470 residents do not have sanitation faciliaties at home– including most families in his town of K’aspi Cancha.

"Even at night, in the wind, or in the rain, we used to have to go outside," explains Pablo.

When K’aspi Cancha’s new water system was being constructed by the district government and Water For People, Pablo attended a workshop about the importance of hygiene and sanitation.

"In the workshops, they told about waterborne illnesses and contamination of water supplies," says Pablo. "They told us, ‘If you are going to have water, you should construct your bathrooms and have showers, toilets, and sinks."

Pablo left the workshops realizing he wanted to improve his family’s life. He wanted his sons to have what he never had as a child – a decent bathroom. Pablo immediately got to work.

"I am not a mason, but I constructed the bathroom myself," says Pablo. "Now we can shower with hot water before bed and take care of our hygiene. Now, my house is complete, and it feels like we live in the city!"

Pablo said his sons couldn’t believe it. He said they kept asking, "We’re really going to have a bathroom, dad?!"

The new bathroom changed Pablo’s life so dramatically that he took it upon himself to promote sanitation to the town’s 54 families. There are currently seven additional families that are already building bathrooms, and Pablo’s happy to help them out.

"There is an older gentleman who needed a bathroom, but he couldn’t build it," shares Pablo. "He had pain in his knees, and a toilet would be much more comfortable than open defecation. I told him to buy the materials and I would help him build the bathroom after I am done planting my crops."

Pablo will go to any lengths to encourage his friends and neighbors to build bathrooms. He says his life has improved so much since building his family’s, and he wants the same for everyone in K’aspi Cancha.

"Now, my life lacks nothing," says Pablo.

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