Jojo twins her bedpans for Christmas
Jojo Loebig has been disabled for the past ten years and bedbound for the past five. But that hasn’t dampened her sense of humour.
When friends asked the 30-year-old from Watford what she wanted for Christmas, she told them she wanted to ‘twin’ her bedpans with a disabled toilet block at a school in Haiti.
Jojo, who has severe ME and a chronic condition called PoTS that prevents her from standing, had heard about the fundraising initiative Toilet Twinning through her church. The quirky campaign, which is part of Tearfund, invites people to twin their loo with a latrine overseas in return for a donation – and so provides decent toilets, clean water and hygiene education in some of the poorest countries.
Jojo was amazed when, within hours of her setting up an online giving page to twin her bedpans, total strangers had heard about her on social media and donated enough to help her reach her £240 target.
Jojo’s bedpans now boast their very own Toilet Twinned certificate which shows their Haiti twin: a school toilet block with disabled access ramp.
‘I was so touched by the comments people left: they brought me to tears,’ says Jojo, who lives with her mum. ‘But I was also so happy that I’d been able to fund the toilet block in Haiti!’
Jojo says her own situation has motivated her to want to help people she considers less fortunate than herself.
‘During the ten years of being disabled, I’ve had to deal with all the joyous difficulties that getting to a loo brings. The toilet now comes to me in the form of a bedpan. I’m lucky that I have carers at home – and the blessing of public disabled loos for the rare occasions I go out.
‘Those who are disabled in poorer countries often don’t have any of that. I want to bring awareness of the need for more disabled-friendly loos in poorer countries – and give a little freedom and dignity to those who really need it.’
Most disabled people in Haiti live in extreme poverty as a result of stigma and discrimination. Before the 2010 earthquake, few schools accepted disabled pupils, although there have been efforts to improve their access to education since the quake.
Toilet Twinning CEO Lorraine Kingsley believes that Jojo’s bedpan twinning is a first in the campaign’s five-year history. ‘We’ve had people twin toilets in all kinds of different places, from allotments to camper vans – but we’ve not heard of anyone twinning a bedpan before,’ she says.
‘I – and others too – found it hugely moving that Jojo who has such a lot to cope with herself should want to help others. And it was hugely moving to see how generous people were when we put Jojo’s story on social media, even complete strangers.
‘Jojo’s fundraising will make a huge difference to schoolchildren in Haiti where disabled children’s right to an education has been largely ignored until very recently. Too often we take toilets for granted but they transform people’s lives in the countries where we work.’