This article was originally published in the Idealistas Blog on May 14, 2021.
Can you imagine living in a home without a bathroom? For more than six million Argentinians, this is a daily reality. The repercussions of not having a personal bathroom go far beyond discomfort. Families living in these circumstances are more likely to become ill as a result of unhygienic conditions.
Matías Nicolini wondered what he could do to help. After studying abroad, he searched for ways to serve in his community. While volunteering, Matías realized that many of the families he was working with didn’t have bathrooms in their homes. Matías surveyed a variety of the underserved communities, inquiring about their access to bathrooms. Most residents told him, “we don’t have one,” or “go two blocks over to our neighbor’s house to ask if you can use their bathroom.” While conducting his surveys, Matías would often return home from the settlements with skin rashes and stomach issues. If this was the result of spending just a few hours in these settlements, imagine how these conditions impacted the residents.
It was this realization that inspired Matías to start Módulo Sanitario. To date, Matías’ Módulo Sanitario project is responsible for installing bathroom modules in 600 homes throughout eight provinces in Argentina. With the help of 1,500 volunteers, their work has impacted over 15,000 people!
Módulo Sanitario’s model
Módulo Sanitario builds easy-to-install bathroom modules. The modules include a toilet, a sink with running hot and cold water, a shower, and a sewer kit. Módulo Sanitario often partners with entities like TECHO, an organization that builds emergency housing for families in need. Módulo Sanitario employees and volunteers work many hours building bathroom modules and surveying different communities. The process, from surveying to ending with installation, takes about four months.
While installing the bathroom modules seems to have positively impacted the communities served, there is an ongoing study to determine the lasting effect. Agustina Aguierre, a Communications Coordinator at Módulo Sanitario, stated, “We conduct comprehensive inquiries to determine if the residents’ health has improved. We seek to answer questions such as, ‘have people changed their eating habits due to washing their food properly? Are they still experiencing problems with skin, stomach, or other diseases? Are they sleeping better?’ In short, how are our bathroom modules impacting the quality of life?”
This video offers an idea of the positive impact on the lives of these families:
While the number of Módulo Sanitario volunteers decreased during the pandemic, they are now regaining their rhythm, both in terms of people involved and the aspiration to build. This year, the Módulo Sanitario team aims to build 200 modules through recurring donations, collaborations with companies, and volunteer support.
Agustina says, “we are transforming the quality of life for families. We feel passion, joy, awareness, and pride! We give each other a hand and take with us the learning and humility of this experience.”
How you can help
Módulo Sanitario is currently seeking volunteers. To learn more and to sign up, click here.
Check out other great volunteering opportunities on Idealist.