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Water & Sanitation

How The ‘PooGate’ Tinder Date is Unexpectedly Raising Hundreds for Toilets in Developing Countries

Jim Holmes for AusAID

As Tinder dates go, this one was pretty disastrous. 

A ridiculous tale of how a British woman allegedly got trapped in a window while on a date as she tried to retrieve her own poo has gone viral. 

But in a bizarre twist, as the story has spread across UK media, it’s actually started to raise money to provide the developing world with better toilet facilities.

Read more: 8 Essential Quotes on Toilets From People Who Really Know What They’re Talking About

It all started when an unfortunate woman, who has remained unnamed, went to the toilet while at her date’s house, and got into difficulty after her poo wouldn’t flush, according to a description written online by the date, University of Bristol student Liam Smith...

But the story gets worse. 

In an attempt to get rid of it, the woman apparently tried to throw the unflushable poo out of the bathroom window, but it got stuck. And in her attempt to retrieve it, she also got stuck. 

Smith said that he then had to call the fire brigade to rescue her, and in the process — while the woman escaped unharmed — the bathroom window got broken. So, as a postgraduate student with little expendable income, Smith set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise the £200 needed to replace the window. 

“If my some miracle I manage to raise more money through this page than the cost of the window, any remainder will be split 50/50 between two charities,” wrote Smith on his GoFundMe page, where he detailed the story about his date. 

One of these charities is Toilet Twinning, a water and sanitation initiative that helps those living in poverty to have access to proper toilet facilities, clean water, and the information they need to be healthy.

With 2.4 billion people around the world — that’s one in every three people — not having access to somewhere safe to go to the toilet, it’s a vital ambition.

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the Global Goals, including goal No.6 for clean water and sanitation. You can take action with us here

Read more: These Local Journalists are Fighting for Clean Water for Their Communities

Bad sanitation is one of the world’s biggest killers, and it hits women, children, the elderly, and the sick the hardest. Because of poor water and bad sanitation, says Toilet Twinning, a child under the age of five dies every minute. 

And it has a huge knock-on effect for women’s rights and access to education, with half of the young girls in Africa who drop out of school doing so because they need to collect water, or because the school hasn’t got separate toilets for boys and girls. 

“We have nothing but admiration for the people involved in this story, who managed to turn an embarrassing event into a positive story and one that would also benefit others!” CEO of Toilet Twinning, Lorraine Kingsley, told Global Citizen. 

“It can be hard to start a public discussion about basic needs like sanitation because, although we British are good at toilet humour, we can be a bit squeamish about discussing the actual physical process of needing to go to the loo,” she said.

Kingsley added: “We hope that ultimately the coverage will benefit those overseas who desperately need a proper loo.” 

Read more: 7 Gross (and Important) Facts You Should Know About Water & Sanitation

Smith’s campaign is currently trending on GoFundMe, and has already raised more than £2,000 of its £200 goal. And Toilet Twinning will see £900 of that total, so far. 

Apparently, Smith has seen his date again since, and he told the BBC, “who knows what the future holds.”

“We had a lovely night on the second date, but it’s too early to say if she’s the one,” he added.

Regardless of how the story goes for the couple, it’s already had a happy ending in our book.