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Monday, March 1, 2010

(Toilet) Training: Rwandan Taboos

We had one of our first sessions of training today. The highlight was our training director performing a pantomime of using a so-called squatty potty.  So far I’ve avoided the squatty potty, because we have what appears to be Western-style toilets in our training buildings, which are scattered throughout town.

Photo Caption: This shot from my house displays some of Rwanda’s unique approach to bathroom architecture.

However, the plumbing is not Western, so not only do you flush manually by pouring water into the toilet bowl, but you must abide by the crucial rule posted in all the bathrooms: do not throw paper in the toilet. Instead, you are supposed to put used toilet paper in a trashcan. This isn’t new to me, having had the same situation in Ghana, but it is a hard habit to reacquire. 

After the toilet talk, the training staff talked to us about taboos in Rwanda. To introduce the concept of a taboo, they asked the trainees to share an American taboo, and one guy shouted out “Putting used toilet paper in the trashcan.”

I’m still laughing. The trainers then showed us signs with Rwandan taboos, such as “Don’t overdose in alcohol consumption” and “Don’t buy things in the market without bargaining.”

My favorite was “Be flexible in frustration and discouragement situations.”

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