Language Blunder #954: “Fruits de mar” has nothing at all to do with fruit in Haiti- it means seafood. Helene and I almost ordered some sort of mango seafood dish thinking it was just a mango fruit cup. Oops!
We returned home just after midnight from a successful and exhausting trip into the mountains of southern Haiti. The latrine is nearly complete; I located two promising spots for developing a spring; Helene checked the animals of some of the locals and taught basic animal care.
I am going to share more information about the future plans for animal health development and the potential water sources later this week. For today, I will update you all on the latrines that were funded by Hydromissions.
The school in Marbial serves 410 children from kindergarten to 8th grade. “Faith & Love in Action” is an organization that serves in Haiti and is run by husband and wife team, Marlaine & Daniel. Marlaine is actually from Marbial, but was raised by her grandmother so she could be educated in Jacmel and Port Au Prince. Her grandmother saw the value in education and left her home in Marbial to make sure Marlaine had opportunities that no one else in the community did by taking her to Jacmel. Now Marlaine is giving back. She has been working for years to promote education in Marbial by starting two schools as well as running a boys and girls home in Jacmel.
At the school, there was an old latrine with two toilets, but it was close to the classrooms and stunk so bad that one classroom could not be used at all. We noticed, while we were working, that the children do not use the current latrine. It was in bad shape so they opted to just go to the bathroom outside. Safe water is the primary objective of Hydromissions, but latrines (and hygiene) play important roles in keeping water safe. A good latrine will keep the bad waste from mixing into an existing water source. Or, in the case here, a latrine will keep the human waste from being walked on and transferred into houses where food is being prepared.
Building anything up in the mountains is a lot more expensive and difficult due to the efforts that go into transferring material. Donkeys are used to carry the concrete blocks, cement, sand, gravel and tools up into Marbial. The pit was hand dug and about 20′ deep. It took about a month to dig because the rocks (the same rocks that hindered our drilling efforts last year) had to be pried out individually.
I didn’t have to manage the construction of the latrine because Daniel (Marlaine’s husband) is a master at construction and trained men in the community to help. My help came in the form of small additions to the latrines to promote air flow, capture flies so they didn’t spread disease and help eliminate the odor. I used the V.I.P. Latrine design models to help with the design. I still helped carry block, large rocks and chip block, but I didn’t really have to stay there the whole time which was good since I spent time searching for water and visiting a site for another school that was about 4 or 5 miles deeper into the mountains.
By the time we left, the latrine was nearly complete except for the roof and doors. That will be finished next week. Once it is complete, there will be two small toilets for the little kids, two toilets for the bigger kids, one toilet for the teachers and a urinal for the boys. The latrine was also placed on property that Marlaine & Daniel are in the process of purchasing that is adjacent to the school. Close enough for bathroom breaks between classes, but far enough away that the smell will not keep them from using all the classrooms. In the photo below you can see the new latrine in the foreground. The old latrine is the small structure to the left in the background and the school are the buildings to the right and back of the old latrine.
I am happy that Hydromissions was able to partner with Faith & Love in Action to provide these latrines in Marbial and I look forward to returning for future projects in the developing community.