That was the conclusion of a meeting we had last Friday of all 24 of our volunteer Community Promoters. We try to meet with them periodically to get feedback regarding their work in the communities and to update their skills and knowledge in educating people about water and sanitation issues. This meeting was especially important because it was the first time we were able to hear from the 12 promoters who live high in the mountains where 210 latrines were just constructed. They all came to us with hearts full of gratitude from their communities for the latrines. And, all of them had stories to tell about the construction process. Here is some of what they had to share:
One of the promoters wants us to come to a community meeting with him so we can videotape the people expressing their gratitude for the latrines. His community had 3 latrines prior to our project. Now they have 44. Instead of building 35 latrines, as was planned, they were able to conserve enough material to build 41!
A promoter from Delion, which is very far up in the mountains, said that their community has never had any help from any organization or project. Most of the homes in his area were destroyed in the hurricane, so people are living in shacks. The latrines are more sturdy than their houses and, as the promoters visited the latrine recipients, they found children sleeping on sacks in the latrine because it was more comfortable than their house!
The community of Campagne was the last to receive materials but they completed construction of all the latrines in a month. Much of that was due to the diligence of the promoters in the community, who supervised the construction and made sure that things moved quickly. Due to the extreme need for latrines, the promoters got creative and built double latrines in places where three homes had access. In that way, they helped 40 families, rather than the 35 they were supposed to help. The community sent profuse thanks to us and the promoter said “we want your dreams to be realized here because you’re doing such good things for all of us. We pray for you and the clinic all the time.” This promoter happens to be the pastor of a church in Campagne.
One of the promoters from Dibarasse said “I’ve seen something now that I haven’t seen in my 56 years of life – latrines in my community.” Prior to this project, the church was the only place that had a latrine. Now, they have 42 because they stretched the materials and built double latrines for multiple houses. When VIPs come to the church, they are proud to have a latrine and tippy-taps for them to use. The community is truly contented.
Ceneus Pierre (left) says latrines were something he never thought he’d see in his community.
A promoter from Charlette said “in Haiti, projects are not easily realized. They often start and then stop in the middle. But, with us, everything went well.” He gave special thanks to our Community Coordinator, Gemi Baptiste, who coordinated the delivery and distribution of materials and made numerous trips to the communities to help supervise the construction. We second that thanks to Gemi! And, we were impressed with the homeowners who transported all the cement, iron bars, PVC pipe and other materials to their homes from the drop-off site.
We were also impressed and encouraged to hear some of our “old promoters”, those who were trained back in 2013, share with us the fact that they really are seeing changed behaviors in terms of treating drinking water, washing hands with soap and using latrines or at least a hole in the ground. One promoter said that in his community when a group of men is finished working in the fields, the first thing they do is wash their hands. And, there are more people refusing to drink untreated water when offered, all signs that the education is, indeed, resulting in changed behaviors.
Promoters sharing their experiences with one another and with us.
We spent some time at the end of the meeting talking about ways in which the communities could develop further. They are anxious to have the Goat Program come to all the communities and to do more with agricultural projects, such as building silos for storage of corn and beans. The wonderful time of sharing and thanksgiving concluded with a delicious fried chicken and rice and bean dinner prepared by Cherlie and our hard-working clinic staff. Our thanks to everyone who made it such an uplifting and encouraging day.
Please pray for our Water and Sanitation program. It has been extremely well-received by the communities and is truly leading to improved health of the rural Haitians.