Today is our first day open to the public here in Santa Monica. It is hot in the middle of the day. The camp is full of people walking, jogging, biking along the beach; it is busy here. If you close your eyes and imagine the smell of charcoal fires burning, you could perhaps believe you are in a refugee camp.
Imagine 15,000 to 20,000 people in such a camp: Where do they go to the toilet? Our single pit latrine, one of the stops on the Refugee Camp tour, can give you an idea: a concrete slab with a small opening over a 9-foot-deep hole, and a structure made out of plastic sheeting, or maybe constructed from wood or bamboo. This should do for about 20 persons, but for 20,000? A minimum of 1,000 latrines will have to be built as quickly as possible. Toilets are important for personal hygiene, and they prevent the spread of diseases in our overcrowded camp. Access to proper latrines and sanitation also allows for human dignity and therefore has an important place in our work in refugee camps.