I hopped off the bus, and was only interested in one thing. Toilet. We had been on the bus for 3 or 4 hours, but the last hour just felt like forever, thanks to my bladder!

I look around and see a rudimentary structure that appears to be a shop and a house. There is nothing else around, just barren desert. I feel a sense of pride at my Spanish and rush towards the lady, asking for the baño. But she says there isn’t one, and tries to sell me a Coke.  I felt so devastated that she would lie to me like this. Because obviously, the family living there must have a toilet, right?

Wrong. This is Nicaragua.  A small, poor country in central America.  For me, it was the land of volcanoes, surf, rocking chairs and parties.  For the people living there, it is a different story all together.  The daily grind of putting rice and beans on the table to feed their kids is hard enough.

In Nica, the conscientious people burn rubbish (mainly plastics) outside while their children play and inhale the fumes. The majority of people just throw the rubbish wherever they are at the time when it is produced.

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Just another stream behind a township in Nicaragua

Can you imagine building a toilet as well? What’s the point? Over a billion people still practice open defecation today…. Which would be ok if they are healthy and happy.  But there are so many water borne diseases we know about, and I feel like I can make a difference. In fact, it is a social responsibility for me.

This is my motivation for going to Vanuatu with Engineers without Borders.  I’ll be there a whole year, to increase awareness in the sanitation area. Whether this be educational programmes at schools, up skilling labourers, or both, I am not sure yet.  I know no one in Vanuatu, in fact, when I saw the placement, I had to google where it was! This will be a different kind of adventure to my usual and will be what I make of it.  I am scared and excited all at the same time.

Because remember, what you see as a tourist is not reality.

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Beauty queen parading around beach

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Cute kids by the beach.  Is that plastic on top of the roof to stop the rain? yes it is.