From the Tearfund website, 25 July 2016. Story by their website editor, Ben Cohen.
A bedbound woman has helped to build toilets for some of the world’s poorest people – by ‘twinning’ her bedpan with a toilet block in Haiti.
31-year-old Jojo Loebig from Watford got the idea after hearing about Tearfund’s Toilet Twinning scheme from her local church. Jojo has severe ME and a chronic condition called PoTS that prevents her from standing or sitting and she has been disabled for ten years and confined to her bed for over five, forcing her to use a bedpan.
The quirky Toilet Twinning campaign, which is part of Tearfund, invites people to twin their loo with a latrine overseas in return for a donation – and so provides decent toilets, clean water and hygiene education in some of the poorest parts of the world. As Jojo is prevented from using a normal toilet, she decided to take the unusual step of twinning her bedpan instead, hoping to raise £240.
‘I want to bring awareness of the need for more disabled-friendly loos in poorer countries – and give a little freedom and dignity to those who really need it.’
Jojo’s bedpans now boast their very own Toilet Twinned certificate which shows their Haiti twin: a school toilet block with disabled access ramp.
‘I was so touched by the comments people left: they brought me to tears,’ says Jojo, who lives with her mum. ‘But I was also so happy that I’d been able to fund the toilet block in Haiti!’
Jojo says her own situation has motivated her to want to help people she considers less fortunate than herself.
‘During the ten years of being disabled, I’ve had to deal with all the joyous difficulties that getting to a loo brings. The toilet now comes to me in the form of a bedpan. I’m lucky that I have carers at home – and the blessing of public disabled loos for the rare occasions I go out.
‘Those who are disabled in poorer countries often don’t have any of that. I want to bring awareness of the need for more disabled-friendly loos in poorer countries – and give a little freedom and dignity to those who really need it.’
Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley believes that Jojo’s bedpan twinning is a first in the campaign’s five-year history. ‘We’ve had people twin toilets in all kinds of different places, from allotments to camper vans – but we’ve not heard of anyone twinning a bedpan before,’ she says.
‘I found it hugely moving that Jojo who has such a lot to cope with herself should want to help others. And it was hugely moving to see how generous people were when we put Jojo’s story on social media, even complete strangers.
‘Jojo’s fundraising will make a huge difference to schoolchildren in Haiti where disabled children’s right to an education has been largely ignored until very recently. Too often we take toilets for granted but they transform people’s lives in the countries where we work.’
For more information about Toilet Twinning, go to www.toilettwinning.org It costs £60 to twin a household latrine and £240 to twin a school toilet block.