In honor of World Water Day, I spread the word about it via twitter, facebook and my blog. I also signed up for the World’s Longest Toilet Queue event. This “Queue for Change” is a global mobilization bringing together thousands of campaigners from across the world to demand action from local, national and international political leaders–put sanitation and water at the top of the global agenda where it belongs. Participating meant standing up in solidarity with the 2.6 billion people across the world who still have to wait in line for their right to use a safe and dignified toilet.
My third grade son and I created a toilet sign using a tall used box that a friend was kind enough to bring over yesterday.
[SIDE NOTE: My son saw the movie FLOW last year and understands the concept of people living without access to clean water and sanitation. All the same, he did become a bit bored painting the sign and decided, instead, to play with the cats. When I tried to send him outdoors, he was back to helping me.]
I invited everyone I knew to join us at noon in our quaint downtown at the corner of Main Street.
On the way there, I could tell my son–the hand-in-his-pocket-mouth-closed-in-a-tight-smile type anytime he’s expected to perform –was a tad uncomfortable with the idea of what we were about to do. “This is gonna be stupid,” he said quietly as I parked the car. But he stuck with me, mostly because he really had no choice. We visited a few of the local businesses, hoping to recruit a few more people (and, if nothing else, explain why we’d be standing on the corner with a giant piece of cardboard decorated with a toilet) “It’s World Water Day today,” I explained, with my son beside me in usual stance. “We’re trying to raise awareness about the 2.6 billion people without access to clean water and sanitation… and the 4,000 children who die every day because of that.” It was unlikely any of them could join us simply because they were lean on staff.
After making our rounds, we situated ourselves at the corner and sat on the circular garden’s knee-high brick wall, sign folded at our feet. It was quite windy and brisk, but the sun was shining. A gorgeous day. We waited for our fellow activists. And waited. A few minutes before the noon hour, I decided it was time to get the queue underway. Just E and I with our toilet sign, holding on with all our might, the wind threatening to turn us into cardboard sailors at any given moment.
Thankfully, my neighbor showed up. Woot! We were up to three! I was hoping for twenty-five so we’d be counted as part of the world’s record, but… it’s Spring Break, so chances were slim. In the end, it was the three of us plus my neighbor’s two friends. Four adults, one kid, standing up for clean water and sanitation.
While our mini rally didn’t result in a rubber neck traffic jam, we definitely got people’s attention and hopefully they read our the words on our sign. A few pedestrians stopped to ask what we were up to.
Knowing I had hoped for more people to rally for the cause, my neighbor reassured me by saying I touched at least a few lives and one never knows what seeds I may have planted that day. Her friends thanked me for my efforts and, in the end, Ethan said, “That was fun.”
It’s not too late to sign up for the virtual online Toilet Queue–maybe you can plan one of your own for next year! Every little bit helps.
Read about my first Toilet Queue November 19 2009.