Women helping women by teaching and helping set up micro-businesses in Haiti.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
June 26th - Toilet Quest, Feeding Program, etc.
“Toilet Quest”: Today was an interesting day of sorts. I went on a treasure hunt of sorts for a useable toilette at the displacement camp at Santo #17. This camp, by many standards is one of the best and cleanest around, however, for the over one thousand residents, there is ONE (yes you read correctly), there is ONE useable toilet!
I actually met four lovely children on “my quest” to find a clean toilet at the camp. I took a video of them as I asked them where I could use to the toilet. Immediately, they told not to use the ones that were available for the camp residents because they were “nasty”. One of the little girls warned me that I could get cholera if I went to use the toilet. At first they told me that they themselves never go near the toilets. Upon asking some more as to where they would use the toilet, they pointed me toward a tree. One of the girls advised me that behind the tree was a great spot because it was “clean”.
Open Hole that leads to sewage
I will have to wait until I return to the U.S. since I will need a faster Internet connection to upload the videos that I took on my toilet quest. Eventually, there was one that was locked with a young man as the “gate keeper”. At first, he told me that he had the key to let me in, but then he said he had to get it, with that he disappeared, I think that was the point when he realized that I was filming.
Bottom line, there is ONE useable toilet for the entire displacement camp!
In the video, you will see several structures that were built as toilets, however, for some reason, the NGO that constructed the toilets insisted on the newest technology that promptly broke down, making the toilets unusable.
As you can see from the photos, there is a brightly painted wall that states (translated): WASH YOUR HANDS. What a joke! Where should I wash my hands? After I fall into the big hole in the ground that is open to sewage?
"Wash your Hands" - That's what the wall reads, but where is the water? Let alone the toilets?
At the Santo #17 camp, the tents were replaced by semi-permanent housing. The housing has a cement base, plywood walls and a tin roof. There are no glass window, once the blue shudders are opened, there is an open hole in the wall for a window. The houses are one-room duplexes. This means, two families are assigned one duplex. Since there aren’t any shower or bathing facilities, families carry bucket of water to the front of their house to wash there. No privacy at all. Some families have used old tarps to build some semi-private bathing facilities but with the strong winds, most of them have been blown away. So, at any one time, you will see semi-nude people washing themselves in front of their houses. That includes women who have developed a system of wearing short while being topless, washing the exposed body parts. Then the women will wrap themselves in a towel, take off their shorts and wash the other parts that stay covered under the towel. When I asked some of the women if it did not bother them that anybody who walks by sees them pretty much naked, they responded that they have to clean themselves somehow.
Lady washing herself in front of her house.
Feeding Program: Also, I spend some time with Peter, my cousin-in-law, who runs a feeding program for some of the resident children. The Haitian government has started a canteen where residents can buy a meal for 10 Gourdes (approx. $0.25) per person. One of the ladies in our crochet project got a job cooking at the canteen part-time. However, the food that the children get through Peter’s feeding program is free to them. The kids have been trained to sit nicely and to wait for their plate of food. I did take some video, that I will upload later, but I do have photos that I am posting on our facebook page. The program is supported in part by the same organization, called “Help for Haiti”, that helped us ship yarn in their container to Haiti. However, most of the program is supported by Peter himself.
Mid-Day Meal for the Kids in Peter's feeding program
Patiently waiting for their Plate
Crochet Update: We now have 97 finished Frisbees! I have started to work with a couple of ladies on the little dispenser bags. This is a much more complicated pattern than the Frisbees and I am going to only be able to teach about 10 of the best crocheters to make the bags. I took two full days with some of the ladies to try to teach them the Frisbee and stayed on trying to get round 1 and 2 finished. Two full days of round 1 and 2, then not moving forward beyond those two rounds… I don’t think that I have the energy or patience to go through this again with the dispenser bags. I know that the ladies want the work, but there also needs to be a reality check. Am I being too hard on them?