19-year-old Jay is sitting on the loo, after an argument with his parents, when he sees a certificate that reads 'this toilet is paired with this toilet in The Gambia'. This gives him an idea. Jay embarks on a journey to deliver his parents' fancy toilet seat to the owners of the latrine. As he walks along the remote Gambian roads, he smugly promotes his charitable deed on social media. Sunburnt and out of water, Jay collapses and passes out on the road. He is helped by a mysterious stranger, who carries him to a local village. There he learns that the latrine on the certificate is in this village. However, when he finally sees it in person he realises his journey has been in vain. This is a squat toilet and doesn’t require a seat. Jay sits with a local family, sharing his embarrassment about his foolish self-promoting mission. They suggest he could help them buy a new water pump, something they actually need. Jay then sees that some kids have turned using the toilet seat into a makeshift basketball hoop. Jay smiles, he might have been a complete idiot, but maybe everything will be alright after all.
Going to the Loo is a live-action comedy short, based on this passage about charitable giving: “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others." (Matthew 6:2) The Bible provides lots of encouragement to help those in need. However, I particularly like this chapter of Matthew, that advises us about how we should give. I know from personal experience of charity work, that a personal desire for validation and fulfilment can often get in the way. I have learnt that it is much better to work with people in a discreet way to ensure that our helping really does help. The passage from Matthew, tells us to give in a subtle way, not blowing our own trumpet like the hypocrites of the time. As Going to the Loo shows, this can definitely be a big problem today with many opportunities for self-promotion at our fingertips. Whilst Jay's actions may be quite absurd and extreme, I hope this story can be a reminder to all of us to ensure we are giving in the best way and for the right reasons.