Mar 17, 2016

The Sanitation Saleswoman

Algate has been part of the SOIL team since 2012. She originally had a 1-month trial contract, which turned into years of dedicated contribution to SOIL’s mission. Because of her positive energy, tireless commitment to community engagement and education, and increased responsibility in the EkoLakay program, SOIL Cap-Haitien honored Algate as the employee of the month in January 2016!

I interviewed Algate to see what drives her to work so hard to improve sanitation in her community. She doesn’t say so in the interview, but she brought in a whopping 227 new EkoLakay household toilet clients in 2015. Be sure to watch the song she composed for EkoLakay after reading the interview!

Algate marketing EkoLakay in Avyasyon

What is your position in SOIL?

I work SOIL as the Hygiene Promoter and Sanitation Coordinator Assistant. I’m the one who does trainings with people to show them how to use SOIL toilets in a hygienic way. I do marketing as well.

What is your typical day at work like?

I work in the field doing door-to-door visits at clients’ houses to talk to them about how to use their EkoLakay toilet well. And for people who don’t have toilets, I try to get them interested in our system and install an EkoLakay toilet in their home. There are some clients that are really happy when I show up at their house to install a toilet. They congratulate me and they congratulate SOIL. I really appreciate that feeling.

What brought you to work with SOIL?

I love SOIL’s work in Haiti because our country has had a lot of public health problems. Diseases spread because human waste is not contained or treated. SOIL’s work is important in Cap-Haitien because people in Cap-Haitien openly defecate, there’s no sanitation, and these are very unhygienic conditions.

150701 Prof Vic cap avyasyon frantz tilajan algate sign gps hht gcc

If a lot of people in Okap have toilets, there would be more cleanliness and people could live healthier lives. I would be really happy if SOIL could make an even bigger impact in Haiti so that we can finally resolve the preventable diseases that Haitians come in contact with every day.

Check out Algate’s song!

Mar 15, 2016

A New Lab for SOIL Port-au-Prince!

In order to provide compost of the highest quality and ensure that we comply with the Haitian government’s requirements and WHO safety guidelines, we perform regular microbiological and physicochemical testing on each pile of compost produced in our sites.

Our lab in Cap-Haitien was previously testing all of our compost, including that produced in Port-au-Prince. That required significant logistical coordination to ship the samples across the country, sometimes by plane sometimes by bus, since the samples need to be processed in less than 24 hours to ensure the tests’ accuracy.

Recently, thanks to donations from the Palo Alto Rotary Club, IDEXX lab, and two individual donors, we were finally able to develop our lab capacity in Port-au-Prince so that we have a fully functioning lab in each office.

With a new incubator purchased by the Rotary Club and the Colilert® Quanty-tray System® from IDEXX, the Port-au-Prince lab now has the capacity to test for Total Coliforms and E.coli, a standard indicator of fecal contamination.

The Port-au-Prince team examines samples in our new lab!

The Port-au-Prince team examines samples in our new lab!

In order to kick-start the testing in Port-au-Prince, we organized a two-day training session with the five future lab technicians: Jean-Marie (Director of Composting and Agriculture), Jimmy (Sanitation Director), Lafalaise (Agriculture team), Hervé (Composting and Agriculture Coordinator) and Pierre Richard (Agriculture Research Assistant).

We first organized, sorted and cleaned the lab. We installed the brand new equipment: an incubator, a quantity sealer, a UV lamp, a scale, a blender and some lab glassware. We then reviewed the lab safety rules. After collecting samples at our composting site in Truitier, we processed them together, carefully following the testing protocol customized to SOIL’s compost. After letting the processed samples incubate for 24 hours, we were finally able to read the results and finish the training session with an exam for the participants that everyone passed successfully.

As Jimmy explained, “Before there was a lab in the Port-au-Prince office, we had many difficulties testing our beautiful finished compost. When the new Idexx machine arrived, we already felt really excited, but knew we would be even happier when we can start to use it after this training. It was a really important moment for the Port-au-Prince team. The training was a great collaboration between the two offices as we march towards progress for Haiti.”

We will now be able to perform routine testing of our compost in Port-au-Prince, which will be extremely helpful to extend our composting activities and sanitation services! Many thanks to IDEXX and the Palo Alto Rotary Club for their gracious support of these efforts!

Mar 15, 2016

Toilets + SOIL = <3

SOIL celebrated two of our favorite holidays recently: World Toilet Day and World Soil Day. To us, toilets and soil go together like peas in a pod. Many of you know that SOIL uses the natural processes of ecological sanitation in order to transform toilet waste into nutrient rich compost, as shown in the EcoSan Cycle graphic.

ecosan.engThe SOIL Poop LoopSOIL EcoSan cycleHere in Haiti, we celebrated World Toilet Day as a platform to spread the word about Ecological Sanitation. We had a large crowd of over 300 people join us for an event that included DJs, government officials from the Ministry of Public Health, and a theater troupe known as Twoup Djabolo.

Afterwards, we visited a women’s group that invited us to celebrate the day with them. With around 80 participants, we reflected on the theme “Every house with a toilet!” and watched a short film about cholera. Me Daniel Jean-Jacques, an EkoLakay household toilet client, gave a testimony about the importance of toilets. She told the group, “in our neighborhood, there are a lot of problems with sanitation. People don’t have toilets and so they defecate wherever they can, such as in an abandoned house or a plastic bag that they throw out, or by the sea. I thank SOIL for helping this community with the EkoLakay service because it makes an impact on health. It’s important that we participate by telling our neighbors to sign up for an EkoLakay toilet.”

Although the subject matter was serious, we also enjoyed moments of lighthearted fun with the Twoup Djabolo. And of course, no SOIL event is complete without Algate, our Hygiene Promoter, singing her popular EkoLakay song.

SOIL World Toilet Day celebration in Haiti

While we were busy at these events in Haiti, you were celebrating World Toilet Day with us from abroad! We so appreciate the #Unselfies that you shared on social media in order to spread the world about World Toilet Day and SOIL. Our staff also contributed with the reasons that they are grateful for their EcoSan toilets. 

Thank you to everyone who helped make this year’s World Toilet Day and World Soil Day very special for SOIL.

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