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  Sanitation Uniting Mankind  

Sum1 is a global charity focused on educating women and girls about health, hygiene, and disease prevention—as well as sanitation reform—in nations where this information and support is most needed.

Our primary initiative is to reach out to the women and girls who are impacted by sanitation problems the worst, educating and training the mothers—who are the first line of defense and comprise the single largest body of healthcare workers on the planet—so that they can help their families and reduce infant mortality.

  Sanitation is a Human Right   

Nearly 2 million people die every year because of poor sanitation and bad water...

We're living in the 21st century and 2.5 billion people in the world still lack access to improved sanitation like toilets and sewage. More than 80% of those live in rural areas of developing countries. About one million lives could be saved every year with education and simple solutions many of us take for granted.

We're often asked the question: “What exactly is sanitation?”

1. Conditions relating to public health, esp. the provision of clean drinking water and adequate sewage disposal
2. the promotion of hygiene and prevention of disease by maintenance of sanitary conditions (as by removal of sewage and trash)  [Merriam-Webster]
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Astonishingly, as much as one third to one half of this disease and death can be reduced through a simple actions, like washing hands with soap and water after defecating, after changing a child’s diaper, after handling animals, and again before eating or preparing meals. Many of those living in the developing world either don’t realize or simply disregard the importance of soap and water at these key moments.

A lot of metropolitan cities in the United States—like our own home of Salt Lake City, Utah—have populations well under one million. Try to imagine for a moment what it would be like if everyone in the city you lived in died over the course of a single year. Or even in just six months. If this went on in the United States or Europe our leaders would declare it a national disaster, but in poorer countries it goes largely unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Furthermore, the rising level of disease from sanitation issues is not only effecting the developing countries. This has become a global issue for Eastern and Western hemispheres, both north and south: in this age of cheap airline travel, every one of us is now just one international flight away from these diseases.

  Not Everyone has a Toilet   

Video courtesy of
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The need for sanitation is something that truly unites every human being: we all need a place to poop but not all of us have easy and safe ways to do that.

1.1 billion people still practice open defecation: the act of eliminating outdoors in fields, rivers, railways, streets, and sidewalks. Even when there is access to safe latrines, convenience and cultural norms will often lead them to continue defecating in the open and spreading disease.

In India alone—the open defecation capitol of the world—there are more than 600 million open defecators. That number is nearly two times the entire population of the United States.

Although humans have done this for hundreds of thousands of years, as the world's population increases and people are residing in increasingly crowded numbers all that crap is really starting to pile up.

In places where people have improved sanitation, disease from exposure to human feces is a fraction of what the developing world faces every single day.

  The Plight of Women   

Overall, the lack of accessible toilet facilities effects women in these countries far more than the men. Most will do their best to wait until after dark for the sake of privacy and shame, and even then they are often terrorized by sexual harassment, violence, rape and murder, and animal attacks  when they venture out alone.

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Another issue for women throughout the developing world is a lack of education about menstruation. Centuries of superstition often surround this natural biological function, and younger women often lack the knowledge of exactly what is happening to their bodies. It leads to girls missing school more than boys, and inevitably to their dropping out of educational programs.

These same women also face limited or no supplies to comfortably and safely manage their monthlies and will use sand, husks, dirty old cloths, or even ash to try and contain it – a practice which often leads to infections that can cripple or kill. There are safe solutions and education that can be tailored to the cultures that have this problem, and Sum1 brings this information as well to improve the lives of these women.

When you take the time to explain the biology of menstruation—that there is nothing evil or wrong with it—you empower women who sometimes have lived with shame their entire lives. When you show them how easy it is to create a reusable, washable pad you give them hope.

  Handwashing is Vital   

“But diarrhoeal disease isn't such a huge problem everywhere, right?”

More often than not, the key is handwashing. Contrary to Western thinking, the majority of the world doesn't use toilet paper–or at least limits use. Parts of Europe, the Middle East, and large portions of Asia use alternatives (such as bidets, lota, or similar methods) for cleaning themselves after the toilet. It can be argued that these ways are often cleaner and more environmentally sustainable than the Western method.

Video courtesy of TED
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Regardless of whether you prefer paper or water, it is always absolutely vital to wash your hands after defecation, and always important to use soap and water. Don't believe us? Believe the CDC 

In some places people will only quickly rinse their hands with water, which is sometimes just as contaminated. Other times all they do is scrub their hands with dirt or sand. Or wipe dirty hands on equally contaminated grass.

In many parts of the world, it's not thought to be important to wash before cooking or preparing meals, thinking that their hands are getting clean enough while handling the food; in truth, they are contaminating that food with fecal matter and dangerous pathogens before feeding it to families. In some cultures, it's only viewed as important to wash hands after eating a meal, not before.

Even educated healthcare workers and medical professionals can forget and become lax in washing hands, which is a major part of why hospital post-operative staph infections are running rampant in many parts of the world. Even here in the United States.

  Our Solution   

“Sanitation is more important than independence.”
— Mahatma Gandhi, 1925

The mission of Sum1 is to bring education about sanitation and disease prevention to the parts of the world where this problem is worst. We help them understand how using soap and water will reduce illness in their family. Whenever possible, we also bring them access to affordable toilets, better sanitation, and safe water sources.

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This can be done affordably. Digging wells and building toilet facilities are of course pricey endeavors, but sending an education team to a rural village where disease and illness are rampant, to explain germs and infection and demonstrating how to improve their hygiene habits is relatively inexpensive.

Working together, we know can change the world. But we really need your help to do it. Every dollar adds up, just as every person who steps up to give their support also adds up.

  6 MARCH 2012 | GENEVA/NEW YORK – The world has met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water, well in advance of the MDG 2015 deadline, according to a report issued today by UNICEF and WHO. Between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells.
  The report highlights, however, that the world is still far from meeting the MDG target for sanitation, and is unlikely to do so by 2015. Only 63% of the world now have improved sanitation access, a figure projected to increase only to 67% by 2015, well below the 75% aim in the MDGs. link:(press release, Media Centre)

  How You Can Help   

100% of your donations—every penny—will go toward project interventions to help the people with the greatest need. We're not paid a dime from what you give. More about this ethic here

“Why should I care?”

Fair question. Chances are, you're reading this online. Meaning you have access to a computer and the internet. So it's also likely you have access to clean water, toilets in every home and business, to soap and cleansers that make sure that your kitchen isn't infested with bacteria and vermin. That you have a job where you make more in a day than many people worldwide do in a month. That you have a car, that you can get emergency healthcare, that you aren't likely to be attacked by wild dogs or snakes if you have to go outside at night to relieve yourself. That you have electricity and your day doesn't essentially end when the sun goes down because candles are too expensive to burn at night. That you regularly spend more on a cup of coffee than the people who grew those coffee beans spend on food in a day. Or a week.

I promise, we're really not trying to make you feel guilty. We're simply pointing out that you've probably got it pretty good, just as we here at Sum1 do. As much as we all might complain about the rising cost of gas or the Blue Screen of Death, those are seriously First World problems. Yeah, you might have gotten passed over for that promotion and you might need to refinance your mortgage; not all of us First Worlders are doing great. There's a lot of unemployment right now, the cost of living keeps climbing, and we have many homeless citizens. But if you take a moment to consider, your simply being able to read this website probably means that you're probably among the richest five percent of people in the entire world.  Even though we know it maybe doesn't always feel like that.

We're not asking a lot. If you can give a buck, please do. I mean, we can all give a buck, right? Look at that coffee cup you're holding. Maybe you can skip going back for a refill from the barista today and give five bucks. Maybe next week you can pack your leftovers for lunch, and instead of going to the steakhouse or that burger joint you can save up ten bucks to help someone.

  Now is your chance to be part of the solution.  

If you really, truly can't afford to give much monetarily, give us some of your time. Help us go viral! Spread the word about us with your friends and family on Facebook Facebook, blog about this page, or TwitterTweet about us. Send five people our way, and we bet at least one of them can help out. If you want to donate by volunteering your time and energy to us, drop us an email and tell us how you'd like to help.

When we all work together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. We can do some really great things out there. We can all be Sum1

“Those who have the privilege to know
have the duty to act.”
— Albert Einstein

  India & +1ndia — Going where the need is greatest   

“Sanitation is India's biggest problem.” — Bindeswar Pathak,
founder of the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation

Sum1 creates projects focused on specific countries or parts of the world that are effected by health, hygiene, and sanitation issues. We've started with India, which is where the problem really is probably the worst in the world...

With the +1ndia project (say: plus-India)  we work to transform that country “+1 family, +1 village at a time.”

The Facts:

Lack of sanitation leads to more illness and disease in India than any other cause. Two-thirds of the 1.24 billion people there have no ready access to clean sanitation and toilets. That's 818 million people, most living in the rural parts of the country. There are 355 million menstruating women in India and more than 80% of rural women use inferior alternatives to pads which severely impact their health.

According to the 2011 annual UNICEF report, more deaths of children under the age of five occurred in India that year than anywhere else in the world: 1.7 million children—over 4,650 child deaths a day. link:(UNICEF APR 2012, pg 9:FIG 8)

These numbers are staggering when you pause to consider India alone accounted for 24% of global under-five deaths in 2011—almost one quarter of all infant deaths on the planet in one single nation—and the northern state of Uttar Pradesh has the highest infant mortality rate in that country. link:(India National Family Health Survey, pg 8)

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We began our work in the village of Saraiya (map) a few miles south of the town of Basti in Uttar Pradesh. In November 2012 we sent a team to the village for two weeks.

Our educators Jodi and David demonstrated to the villagers how they can improve their hygiene habits and their quality of life. They helped build several tippy-taps to give them hand-washing stations, and the villagers were excited that it was so easy to make more.

Eco Femme also presented for several days, addressing specific sanitary issues for the women, providing them with reusable sanitary supplies, and teaching them how to make their own.

K.H.E.L. gave us immense assistance with translation services and have agreed to followup visits in a few months to collect information on improvement for both our HELP program and for Eco Femme.

To sum up, this was a remarkable experience for all involved, and we expect to see marked improvements in the months to come for the lives touched by our work.

  Looking FORWARD   

At this time we're committed to focus our efforts in India. Plans are in motion at this moment for a return trip in April 2015 to meet with HEEALS. We know that our work must continue for now in Northern India, but we are looking into new areas and talking about southern India for the future.

After our successes in Saraiya, we hope go on to bring the same education programs in similar villages, spreading the ripples and saving lives. We want to help build more toilet facilities to reach the goal of stopping open defecation. The plan is giving more people in rural India access to clean toilets and water. After +1ndia, the rest of the world...

We look forward to working with both K.H.E.L. and Eco Femme again in the future, and are very excited about the potential for future relationships with HEEALS and Sulabh International.

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