Tag Archives: toilets

The Final Days

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Saying Goodbye is always hard

I am sitting in the airport in Panama City, waiting to be called to board.

This last week and a half has been busy. Simon drilled another well and installed two hand pumps. I closed off a large sanitation project at Asilo (a home for the elderly/disabled on the main island).

I am excited to see my family and friends back in the States, but saying goodbye to my Panama-family and friends is still sad.

As usual (for me), I have a quick turn-around in the States. I arrive home this evening (Wednesday) and will be loading gear back in my dad’s car at 2am on Sunday morning. I am heading back to Haiti with the goat team.

I will be sure to update more on the project later this week, but for now – if anyone lives near me (Vineland), I am looking for twin sheets for the orphanages we partner with in Haiti.

Adios for now 🙂

 

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Simon working on a well in Shark Hole


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Simon with a family near their well in Isla Tigre


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Maria Isabelle is one of the residents of Asilo. Maria is an elderly schizophrenia patient. On this particular day, she was in a good mood and gave me some drawings. I really like when she is in a good mood, but I also don’t mind when she is in a bad mood either because my Spanish isn’t good enough to figure out what she is yelling at me about 😉  

 

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“We will remember you…when we use our toilets”

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Some of the recipients of the new latrines (toilets).

On my last day in San Antonio, we had a big ceremony to celebrate the new water tower, electric that has been installed in two homes (the rest of the homes should be on-grid within 6 months) and the new latrines!

It was a lovely sunny day with music and food and small speeches by the community and the organizations that helped them over the years.

The day before the ceremony, I was given a skirt and shirt from the ladies in San Antonio. It was a sweet and unexpected gift. It was also quite funny to me that I was given a typical Guatemaltecan outfit to wear when the ladies themselves wore jeans just like I usually do. When I showed up the morning of the ceremony, I wasn’t surprised that I was the only one in a typical outfit. I had to laugh at myself and smile for them. The ladies were so happy to see me wearing the outfit that they had given to me and even though I felt extremely out of place (I was the only “gringa” in attendance), I knew it meant a lot to them (or it was an elaborate prank that they will finally share with me next time I visit 😉 ).  Continue reading

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A Day in the Life…

(or as my Guatemalteco friends say, “The Adventures of Cait” – Stick with me for this…it’s good)

I live in a house surrounded by walls.
It is a typical house here in Chiquimulilla, Guatemala.
Simple. Concrete. With steel doors.  And iron bars.
The house has a small courtyard in the front and back.  Separated by the house.
In the back is where I do all the washing (dishes, clothes, etc).
My days begin simple here.
I wake up at 5:30am.
Study.
Make breakfast.
Wash dishes.
Kill mosquitoes.
For every one I kill, 5 bite me.
Prepare Lunch for the day.
Shower.
And leave for San Antonio by 8am.
This particular morning, I was washing dishes when the steel door slammed shut.
Augh. The wind.
I looked around. No key. No phone.

First thought: This is not good.

Second thought: Thank you, Lord, I’m not in my PJs. Continue reading

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I should be in Haiti right now, but I’m in chilly NJ!

I bet if I looked back at all my blog posts, a high percentage would start out with some variation of “sorry it has taken me so long to write…” 🙂

I did not intend to be Stateside so long after the holidays, but our project to Haiti, originally slated for January, was postponed to February and finally cancelled last week.

It feels odd to be home right now because my schedule (which I had been working on for months) was to be in Haiti with a team of animal science and agriculture trainers. Our team of 6 women was supposed to arrive in Port Au Prince on Saturday, but due to political unrest and riots, we had to cancel our trip. The goats have already been purchased and will be distributed to the students in Marbial by our local contacts in Haiti this week.

Last year, I wrote a blog post about how much research and planning goes into my projects before I leave the States. It can take up to a year from when we get the project application until we have a team in the community. One of the hardest events to follow/predict are elections. I generally try to avoid countries during elections, but sometimes it is inevitable. In the case of Haiti, a new president should have been selected months ago, but votes were cancelled indefinitely after allegations of fraud and distrust led to protests and riots.

I wrote a 2-page letter that donors to the Goat project received last week. It details what is going on in Haiti and how our program will continue even though we are not there physically. If interested, read it here: Letter about the Gift a Goat program.

Special thanks to Oregon Girl Scout Troop 10143 and Saint Mary’s CCD students. Troop 10143 sent me an awesome care package with supplies for the students in Haiti. The package included important hygiene items like toothpaste, toothbrushes and soaps. Saint Mary’s CCD students raised enough money for a little over 3 goats and each student made a card for me to bring to the kids in Haiti. I am keeping all those items packed and ready to go as soon as we reschedule our flights to Haiti 🙂

In addition to raising funds for Haiti, the “Gift a Goat & More!” campaign also raised enough money to build a water tower and latrines in San Antonio, Guatemala and latrines in La Cumbre, El Salvador. I am heading to Guatemala on February 23rd to work in San Antonio. I am excited to be working with the same community I worked with back in 2009 (see post “Then and Now” to read about San Antonio).

Lastly, I will take a couple weeks to study Spanish while I am in Guatemala to improve my communication skills (wahoo!.. maybe I will learn how to say “wahoo!” in Spanish 😉 )

Thank you for your support of these projects!

p.s. There are some pros to being home in February – the last time I was home for my birthday was back in 2012. Now I can take advantage of all those coupons that come in only for your “birthday month” 😉

Building a snowman for Schmitty is another plus to being home for some extra time this winter :)

Building a snowman for Schmitty is another plus to being home for some extra time this winter 🙂

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Panama Mud

 

It has been nearly a week since I left Panama. It was a long and difficult project, but the outcome was good. A well was drilled on Isla Tigre, a toilet installed for Simon, a pump repaired for Viviana’s community well and the 2,400′ pipeline bringing water to the school and mangrove houses was complete. During my last week, I was able to work with the community to install the septic tank, leach tank, leach ditch and piping associated with the toilet and shower drain for Justa, the schoolteacher. The community was left with the tasks of pouring the concrete floor (which they completed on Saturday) and building the bathroom enclosure (hopefully to be complete on their next community work day).

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Water flowing into the last cluster of houses in the mangroves

 

I am excited to see how far we have come with the fundraiser!

$15,000 raised of our $20,000 goal!

I have switched over to a new platform provided by Indigogo called Generosity. The campaign has the same perks (rewards), however I am able to extend the end date. I am hoping that we can raise the remaining $5,000 over the next two weeks and conclude this campaign around mid-December. If you would like to share, please copy this link for Gift a Goat & More! 

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75% to our goal!

Below are some photos/stories from Panama:

“The unwanted houseguest”

I am not usually grossed out by bugs/spiders/etc. I am only really jumpy around snakes (ugh, I hate snakes). Anyway, this cockroach was hanging out in my bathroom one morning. Continue reading

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stuck…Stuck…STUCK!

After the storm cleared up, we went back to the site to assemble the piping between the septic tank and leach barrel.  I told Jess and Pat it would take about 35 minutes to complete….nearly 4 hours later, we finally made it home.  The mud was so sticky, thick and difficult to walk in that we spent more time just trying to pry our feet out then actually working.  We ended up using our hands for the most part to fill in the trenching and leach pit because the muck would just stick to the shovels and we couldn’t move it.  We have all that much more respect for the men in the community who dug the pits.  They are so strong…or we are so weak? 😉   We got a nice surprise while we were finishing up at the pit – the men came back with lumber! Francisco’s family really came though and brought us lumber for the posts and flooring!  We were so encouraged by the work they put into gathering the lumber – they had to travel to find the trees, cut them down, cut the sizes we needed, haul it their boat and then haul it over to us.  Their work showed us that they are really embracing this latrine and want it for their families.  We still don’t have any support from Ernasto’s family, but that is OK.  The latrine is situated closer to Francisco’s family and we will let the two main families* sort out the details of who gets to use it later.  (*there is a long-time feud between there two main families – Francisco’s family is forced to live in the mangroves while Ernesto’s family lives on the high ground. These are large families so about 20 people live on the high ground and about 35 live in the mangroves).  The latrine is also situated facing the site of a school that is being built.  It isn’t right next to the school, but it is close enough for the kids to use.

Bobby Wood and his crew – Simon, Francisco Jr. and Dionecio – were the primary builders while Jess, Pat and I helped when and where we could.

Below are some pictures from the past two days. Most of them show us stuck in the mud…which represents how we spent a lot of time 😉

Laying pipe between the septic tank and leach barrel

Laying pipe between the septic tank and leach barrel

Jess and Pat getting the pipe ready

Jess and Pat getting the pipe ready

Jess added our initials to the pipe before we buried it

Jess added our initials to the pipe before we buried it

We spent most of our time digging each other out of the sticky mud

We spent most of our time digging each other out of the sticky mud

...and digging ourselves out

…and digging ourselves out

...or just giving up and deciding that Pat's right leg was gone forever

…or just giving up and deciding that Pat’s right leg was gone forever

Jess is in the safest place of all - out of the mud!

Jess is in the safest place of all – out of the mud!

Francisco's family came through with the wood! Here is Simon attaching the floorboards

Francisco’s family came through with the wood! Here is Simon attaching the floorboards

working on the leach pit/barrel

working on the leach pit/barrel

Driving the posts in by hand...and feet

Driving the posts in by hand…and feet

The floor is coming together thanks to Bobby and crew

The floor is coming together thanks to Bobby and crew

Jess sealing the vent pipe exit

Jess sealing the vent pipe exit

kids playing soccer :)

kids playing soccer with the new school frame in the background

Jess and Pat attaching the toilets!

Jess and Pat attaching the toilets!

Finishing touches with the marine sealant

Finishing touches with the marine sealant

Bobby wanted to really test the toilet ...wishing he had a newspaper

Bobby wanted to really test the toilet …wishing he had a newspaper

This is the finished (for now) product until we get more wood

This is the finished (for now) product until we get more wood

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