Tippy Taps, Island Pets and more!

I am nearly at two weeks here in Panama and I am excited to share some photos from my project, host family and daily life in Bastimentos.  I have had hygiene classes for the community on germs, how water is contaminated, why we should wash our hands, how we should wash our hands, shared the story of the broad street chlora outbreak in London and taught how to build “Tippy-Taps” for hands-free hand washing at their homes.  I am having the classes scheduled around other events the Wood family hosts for the community.  No one will come to just hear me talk about germs, but they will come to a cooking class, a craft class or- better yet – a movie night (biggest attendance by far!) so I have been sharing my lessons before the “fun” events start so those attending are forced to listen to me 😉 The only stand-alone hygiene class I did was the tippy tap construction class.  At first, only one little boy had showed up. After waiting for about 30 minutes, Ellie went to the village to remind people. We ended up starting class about 90 minutes late, but by that time we had kids from 10 different families. We had the tippy tap construction class on Thursday, so I went to the villages on Friday to see who had actually installed (hung up) the tippy taps at their houses. 50% (5 out of the 10 that were constructed) were hanging in the two villages. I will be in the villages daily for the other aspects of the water/sanitation project (drilling a well and building a latrine) so I will be able to encourage (“encourage” may also be interpreted as “nagging” if it takes long enough 😉 ) the others to hang up and use their tippy taps.  It is difficult to help people see the correlation between [lack of] hand-washing and illness.  There isn’t a solid understanding of germs and how they are spread, so practices such as washing hands after going to the bathroom, before preparing food and before eating are not common.  This is typical for a lot of the communities I visit abroad, but I feel like this particular indigenous community is one of the worst for hygienic practices (or lack thereof).  For example, Ellie and I were walking through the village and a few kids came over to tell us (and show us) a goat that had died.  They didn’t know how it died, but they were poking at it, touching it and moving it around. By this time, the dead goat was pretty nasty. Those same kids will touch us, each other, their baby brothers and sisters and they might all eat dinner without washing their hands because the idea of that goat having a disease that could spread to them would never come to mind.  The Wood family has been impacting the community over the years, so there are very positive habits forming. For example, the locals know they have to wash their hands when they are at the Wood’s house before one of Shirlene’s cooking classes.  That is a great habit! The plan is for those habits to transfer to each individuals house and not just when they are with the Wood family.  The tippy taps (if used) will make it easy for the families to wash their hands when needed.

Here is a video showing a demo Tippy Tap I built last week for the community to try (prior to my building class) to encourage them to want one for themselves and to come to my class to build one.

Ellie is the oldest of the three Wood children and my most favorite interpreter. Ellie is my village teammate and we travel together all the time.  In this photo, Ellie found some items in the village trash pile that could be used for up-cycling craft projects.
Ellie is the oldest of the three Wood children and my most favorite interpreter. Ellie is my village teammate and we travel together all the time. In this photo, Ellie found some items in the village trash pile that could be used for up-cycling craft projects.
Bella is the middle child in the Wood family. She is the master at helping me with Tippy Tap construction with her super skills in weaving the string into the holes of the plastic bottles.
Bella is the middle child in the Wood family. She is the master at helping me with Tippy Tap construction with her super skills in weaving the string into the holes of the plastic bottles.
Ethan - the youngest of the Wood family.  Can he be any cuter? This was how he greeted me when I first arrived.  I didn't feel as exhausted from my 33 hours of travel when I opened my door to this little smiling face.
Ethan – the youngest of the Wood family. Can he be any cuter? This was how he greeted me when I first arrived. I didn’t feel as exhausted from my 33 hours of travel when I opened my door to this little smiling face.
Shirlene Wood takes care of all the wounds the community brings to her (and trust me, it keeps her busy!). One of the big problems is that people leave their machetes in the mangroves (muddy, mucky area where they live) and kids step on them.  That is what happen to this little boy. Shirlene worked really hard to make this wound as clean as it looks here in the photo.
Shirlene Wood takes care of all the wounds the community brings to her (and trust me, it keeps her busy!). One of the big problems is that people leave their machetes in the mangroves (muddy, mucky area where they live) and kids step on them. That is what happen to this little boy. Shirlene worked really hard to make this wound as clean as it looks here in the photo.
Here is one of the communities.  You can see how easy it is to not see a machete that was left in the mud.  Kids walk around barefoot so you can imagine that the majority of their injuries are on their feet.
Here is one of the communities. You can see how easy it is to not see a machete that was left in the mud. Kids walk around barefoot so you can imagine that the majority of their injuries are on their feet.
Another example of the homes in the mangroves.
Another example of the homes in the mangroves.
I love the beauty of colorful clothes hanging up to dry.
I love the beauty of colorful clothes hanging up to dry.
A little boy got into his cayuco (dug out canoe) while Ellie and I were visiting one day. He didn't look old enough to be handling such a boat, but the kids do it with ease. They take cayucos to get to school every day.
A little boy got into his cayuco (dug out canoe) while Ellie and I were visiting one day. He didn’t look old enough to be handling such a boat, but the kids do it with ease. They take cayucos to get to school every day.
Here I am teaching the tippy tap class. Gail is a neighbor from a different island that came to visit and interpret for me.
Here I am teaching the tippy tap class. Gail is a neighbor from a different island that came to visit and interpret for me.
Participants in the Tippy Tap class are waiting for additional instructions on how to build their hand-washing stations
Participants in the Tippy Tap class are waiting for additional instructions on how to build their hand-washing stations
This little girl was one of the first ones to use the demo tippy tap I built about a week before the class.  I wanted to encourage people to want one for themselves by giving them a chance to use it before class.
This little girl was one of the first ones to use the demo tippy tap I built about a week before the class. I wanted to encourage people to want one for themselves by giving them a chance to use it before class.
Some of the Tippy Tap class participants!
Some of the Tippy Tap class participants!
Huge, but harmless. These spiders line up webs along the house overhang. Often attaching webs to our clothesline.
Huge, but harmless. These spiders line up webs along the house overhang. Often attaching webs to our clothesline.
This little girl is a local to the mainland here. Do you know what she is?
This little girl is a local to the mainland here. Do you know what she is?
Someone did NOT want me to enjoy breakfast in peace one morning... ;-)
Someone did NOT want me to enjoy breakfast in peace one morning… 😉
the same someone did NOT want me to enjoy a break in a hammock alone... this bird has no manners ;-)
the same someone did NOT want me to enjoy a break in a hammock alone… this bird has no manners 😉
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6 thoughts on “Tippy Taps, Island Pets and more!

  1. Hi Caitlin,
    Love the video of the little girl using her tippy tap. It’s very touching. Praise God for the work you were doing. Got your note, and will look forward to seeing you soon, but no worries if you can’t get down. Love you; be safe! Kathy

  2. Kate, these pics are amazing! I love the company you have during meals and rest time. We’re praying for you here and looking forward to seeing you soon. May our Lord continue to keep you safe, encouraged and cared for! You are a true missionary, in every sense of the word! God Bless You!

  3. Wonderful story Caitlin. I, also, loved the pictures and the video.
    Great work! God Bless
    Debbie

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