Global Activism: ToiletHackers saves lives through sanitation

February 27, 2014

Courtesy of ToiletHackers
ToiletHackers uses humor to facilitate discussion about the touchy topic of human waste.

It’s Thursday and time for our Global Activism series. Each Thursday we feature someone trying to make the world a better place. Michael Lindenmayer was working on a slum project in a developing country when encountered a child who was up to her waist in human excrement. The child was in an area where slum dwellers defecated in the open. Lindenmayer  then promised himself that he would do all in his power to combat the problem - and the idea for ToiletHackers was born.

Michael will tell us about how far he’s come since making that promise to bring to people in developing countries something we take for granted - toilets:

“In the mid 90s, I was returning from a project in a slum. I saw a little girl struggling to climb out of a ditch. When I lifted her up, I realized she was up to her waist in human waste. She had fallen into the area where slum dwellers did open defecation. I saw this scene over and over again all around the world. I vowed to myself that one day I would face down this beast of a problem. I have climbed some steep mountains in my life, but this one is the single biggest challenge I have ever tackled. It is a stinky, messy and totally underfunded problem. This is just the kind of challenge I love addressing.

With the arrival of my daughter, I am reminded daily that every girl should have access to health and hygiene and that no girl should ever face what that girl did in the slum that day I pulled her out of pit.”

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs will host Michael at a panel discussion called, “International Women’s Day Global Health Symposium” as part of the Women and Global Development Forum on Thursday, March 6th at the Fairmont Chicago.