This week is one long birthday celebration for Etta Turner, and there will be toilets in Bolivia to prove it.
Etta was 16 and a Rotary Exchange student in Montero, Bolivia, when she was killed in a bus crash. The students were on a field trip to the site where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid had their final shoot-out with the authorities.
Now, Etta loved to eat, which is why her family, friends, Rotary and Catholic charities in Bolivia founded a feeding program for poor kids in Montero. Led by her mom, Pennye Nixon-West of Port Orchard, Etta Projects began by serving lunch to 100 children a day, then doubled that. Now Etta Projects has expanded into job training, clean water and farming programs.
Its support base here is what you might call irreverent, which is what Etta would expect of people who throw auctions and assorted fund-raisers in her honor and memory.
Her former classmates at Cedar Heights Junior High and South Kitsap High Schools are now in their 20s. Every year they throw her a virtual birthday party where they and their friends donate a dollar for every year since Etta was born. This year, that’s $25.
We’re a day late, but Etta like getting presents whenever they arrived, and she’d be moved by the ones her friend Brittany Gidican is arranging.
“This year the theme is potty talk!” Brittany wrote.
“The group is challenging Etta’s friends, family and the Etta Projects Facebook community to raise enough funds to build ecological composting latrines for families in Bolivia who are now advocating for improved sanitation in their communities.
“In rural areas like the villages where Etta Projects is located, the goal is to implement the Ecological Bathroom Project – a project geared towards implementing sanitary bathroom conditions. People’s health, more specifically poor people’s health, suffers devastating consequences from the lack of sanitation.
“According to UNICEF, in developing countries 80 percent of all disease results from a combination of poor hygiene, contaminated water and poor sanitation. Parasitic infections are exacerbated by poor sanitation. This can lead to stunted growth, general debilitation, and even death.”
Feeling flush? Want to learn more and give?
Here’s the link on Facebook to the event: