A St Catharine’s student has led a successful fundraising event inspired by World Toilet Day that raised over £500 for charity. Naomi Gammon, a third-year Geography undergraduate, organised ‘The Big Squat’ – a sponsored squatting relay – in her role as Fundraising Officer for the Cambridge University International Development Society.
The Society’s committee members and supporters were sponsored to take part in the Big Squat to raise money for Toilet Twinning, which empowers communities to engage in hygiene education and build their own latrines as part of the charity Tearfund’s water and sanitation programme in around 25 countries across the world. The squatting relay was completed over four hours on 21 November, just a couple of days after World Toilet Day on 19 November, and was the Society’s first fundraising event this academic year.
Naomi explains, “As Fundraising Officer, I was responsible for liaising with Toilet Twinning, who kindly sent us t-shirts, flyers and posters, and creating social media content for publicity. I assigned times in the relay for everyone in our team and made sure I did my fair share of squatting – for an hour and a half on the four-hour session! It was a fun way to raise awareness for a good cause among Cambridge students as they walked past us squatting on the way to lectures. My legs were certainly a little sore the day after though!”
“The committee chose to support Toilet Twinning as we believe that it is hugely unjust that 1.7 billion people globally do not have a safe, hygienic place to go to the toilet, when this is something that we take for granted every day in Cambridge. Toilet Twinning works with communities to set up village committees who explore the links between sanitation and health, engage with hygiene education and finally build their own latrine. Toilets also have wider positive effects, such as fewer days of work or school missed due to illness, so the programme is a sustainable way to foster long-term benefits.”
The Cambridge University International Development Society aims to give students the opportunity to translate their academic interest in development issues into practical action by supporting non-governmental organisations like Toilet Twinning who are making a difference to communities around the world.
“I originally signed up to the Society in my first year because of my longstanding interest in international development issues, which I wanted to explore more deeply with likeminded students from other courses. I then went on to serve as the St Catharine’s College representative for the Society, before standing as Fundraising Officer.
“I am passionate about education and supporting local grassroots organisations, and now have a particular interest in issues related to the conflict in Myanmar after a recent internship. During Summer 2022, I worked with Connected Development, a UK-based foundation that supports small non-governmental organisations. I worked particularly with Minmahaw School, an organisation within Connected Development’s network providing post-secondary education to refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border. My internship involved three weeks in-country, which was so rewarding but wouldn’t have been possible without St Catharine’s supporting me with a College Travel Grant. I am hoping to build on these initial experiences and work in the international development sector after graduation.”