Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy is a Clean Floor

While in Ecuador with the poverty relief organization Compassion International, I entered many homes with dirt floors.  I thought of my own floors back home. I thought of how often I sweep and mop my kitchen floor and how happy that makes me. I'm not the most active housekeeper you'll ever meet but my kitchen floor is my "thing." It has to stay clean.

I long would have told you that having clean floors is therapeutic to me. It has the power to make me happy. Turns out, according to the book The Price of Everything, I was right.

In 2000 the Mexican government began a project called Firm Floor. They offered people living with dirt floors the opportunity to receive up to 50 square meters of concrete flooring. Large trucks rolled through neighborhoods pouring cement from house to house, leaving the families to smooth it out. Over the next two years, the World Bank and two universities studied the impact of those cement floors.

Dirt floors are a breeding ground for worms, protozoa and parasites. People living on dirt suffer many more bowel and respiratory infections. Plus, the children have more developmental disabilities.

Turns out cement floors lead to a 78% drop in parasite infections. Bowel issues dropped 50% and anemia dropped by four-fifths. Children's cognitive abilities improved 30-100%. And depression in mothers fell by half. The families showed a 69% increase in their overall happiness.

All this from $150 worth of cement. Happiness really is a clean floor.

This is what I'm thinking about today as I prepare to vacuum and mop. With dustpan in hand I'm able to give thanks for my housework, and the concrete under my feet. 

And I'm praying God leads me to a way to help some other family get on a solid floor, after all, my feet have been graciously placed on the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.


  1. Isn't it interesting how much we can learn from the tiniest difference? I realized yesterday as I was vacuuming how therapeutic it was for my attitude. But how many people do not even have a vacuum.
    Thanks for the post today!

  2. I went on a mission trip with my church last fall to Dominican Rep. I came back with such a renewed appreciation for clean floors, toilet paper, tooth brushes and clean water. We take so many things for granted. Thanks for the reminder :)

  3. Hello, I came across your blog- looking for info on a dirt floor- a post/subject for my own blog. I spent a lot of time with my family in Mexico as a child in fishing villages on the coast (Pacific). I had a hard time convincing my little friends that we weren't rich because we had a wood floor back home. I had no idea of the statistics on parasites etc. that was very interesting. I just ignorantly assumed that with a dirt floor there would be less stress! ( I have six very active young children-and we live in the country with lots of dirt) Thank you for the information!


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