Near Bodin’s house, a stench assaulted passersby. Bodin’s septic tank had burst, and the smell of feces lingered.
Due to a lack of sanitation facilities in Bodin’s village, about 15 families had been using the toilet in Bodin’s small backyard bathroom. They had waited in line each morning just to do so. But this wasn’t the sturdiest toilet, and eventually the demand overloaded its capabilities. After the septic tank burst, these 15 families were left without a toilet. How could they relieve themselves cleanly and safely?
For some time, they couldn’t. People had to relieve themselves outside, and children sometimes just went by the roadside, close to houses. People got sick from the lack of sanitation. Women, especially, suffered due to the lack of privacy.
“It was quite embarrassing to have any family or friends or relatives to come and visit us because of the stench that displays here,” Bodin recalls.
This was one challenge of many Bodin and the other residents of his village faced. It seemed the village was destined to remain in an underdeveloped, impoverished state. It was known for being a place where alcoholism, gambling and drunken brawls abounded.
Because there is no source of industry in the village, many people live in poverty, earning only about $2.50 to $4 a day working as trash collectors, construction workers, vegetable sellers, snack shop owners or rice beer brewers. Sometimes fathers spend their small wages on liquor, leaving their wives and children to go without necessities. Many families have more than three children, so it’s difficult for them to put food on the table—and nearly impossible for them to provide well for their children’s education.
Faithful Ministry Leaves Fragrant Aroma
GFA pastor Jacob came to the area in 2008. He witnessed the difficult conditions people lived in. As he shepherded the local church, he didn’t just care about people’s souls; he also cared about their everyday physical struggles. When a bad hailstorm hit the village, he arranged for more than 300 families to receive new tin roofing sheets. Given the high prevalence of malaria in the forested area, he distributed mosquito nets to people in need. And he also observed the village’s sanitation problem. He knew it wasn’t hygienic or safe for people to go into the jungle to relieve themselves.
He arranged for the village to receive two toilets, one at Bodin’s house and one elsewhere. Now, seven families—about 25 people—use the toilet at Bodin’s house each day. The children no longer relieve themselves outside, and the village stays clean.
“The area is clean now,” Bodin says. “There is no bad stench or odor … because this [toilet] is installed very well. And we have maintained it clean and neat. So, we are all happy now that our people don’t have to struggle.”
What’s more, Bodin and the other village residents have been introduced to a different fragrance—the sweet aroma of Christ’s love. As Pastor Jacob and the church have worked tirelessly to bring hope and help to this community, people have realized that God cares about them.
“We feel loved, although we are very poor and a neglected sort of people, but then the church has always stood on our side,” explains Bodin. “When we need it, the church has helped us. … We are glad that the church is there to take care of us.”
As people experience this love, more people like Bodin are finding new life. “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).