Story

Darin’s Story

“In 2019, after six long years of planning, pivoting, and preparation, I finally found myself walking the slums of India — a country many call “Ground Zero” of the global sanitation crisis.  I had read Rose George’s uniquely quirky book, “The Unmentionable World of Human Waste,” way back in 2013 while on a 7-day cruise with my wife in the Mediterranean Sea.  As a seasoned corporate and securities attorney with a successful law practice, I really had no clear, logical reason to be reading a book with such a title.  According to my wife, I should have been reading a mind-numbing novel or a treatise about mergers and acquisitions.  However, after reading Ms. George’s compelling book, I was “converted.”  I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how crazy it was that — in the 21st century — 2.3 billion (that’s “billion” with a “B”) people on our planet didn’t have a toilet or access to one or any semblance of what we enjoy in the “flush and plumbed” world of the West— and something deep inside was driving me to do something about it.  It was this “conversion” which lead to the formation of ZuLoo as an organization and later helped me attract “Team ZuLoo” (currently, Chris Padilla, Melissa Sevy, and Arturo Fuentes) — a group of awesome human beings and friends who shared my vision and helped ZuLoo chart a path forward.  And suddenly I found myself with them, walking the streets of Hyderabad, India — swatting clouds of flies from our sweating faces — in some of the most impoverished areas of the city, becoming an eyewitness myself to the filth and life-threatening situations many had to face on a daily basis.  No longer did I have to read about the daily dangers young women and mothers face as they navigate the trash heaps under cover of darkness at 4 AM in order to relieve themselves — all the while knowing that rape and physical harm were actual possibilities.  No longer did I have to read about it because I was now hearing such accounts first-hand in real time as we sat in the dirt streets.  There was spark of hope in their eyes as they shared with us the joy they experienced when ZuLoo drilled a water well in their slum and how their lives had been changed now that they had their own ZuLoo-enabled personal toilet and didn’t have to worry about where or how to do their business.  Eyes were wet and hands raised in appreciation for ZuLoo’s efforts.  This experience was my personal “return on investment” that I had envisioned and hoped for six years prior — and this is what continues to drive Team ZuLoo in its efforts to bring toilets, personal hygiene, and clean water to the world’s poor.” — Darin Mangum

by Darin Mangum/ December 21, 2021

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