A conversation with SOIL’s Romel Toussaint
Our Haitian staff members remain safe in Cap-Haitien as we continue to navigate the current challenges with a robust emergency response plan and an incredibly dedicated group of employees.
This week we spoke with Romel Toussaint, SOIL’s Senior Manager, about running the service during these challenging times, how his family is doing and how his work has changed with the ongoing crisis. It almost goes without saying that Romel is one of SOIL’s tireless leaders – dedicated to supporting his staff, and working to ensure that service continues for every family with a SOIL toilet. We are deeply appreciative of his commitment, compassion and empathy.
Interviewer: How are you and your family doing right now?
Romel: Thank God my family and I are doing well. We are doing our best to stock up on food and water as the days ahead are uncertain. Since my children can’t go to school, my first born only attends classes when the internet allows it and my second is home schooled.
Interviewer: What does a typical work day look like for you? Are you able to work?
Romel: Yes, I am able to work, but since the internet is unstable, it creates a delay in responding to emails. I mainly communicate with the team via WhatsApp as we are operating in a state of emergency. I am also facing a power outage for 23 days because our electricity provider in Limonade does not have enough fuel to maintain operations. I can charge my laptop and my phone, thanks to a solar power system that SOIL lends me.
When the roads are unblocked, I go to the office but finding public transport is not easy because of the gas problem. Often, I work 8 hours a day, but some days I can only work 2 hours because the internet is down for a much longer period.
Interviewer: How is the current situation in Haiti affecting your ability to do your job?
Romel: As a senior manager, I was in the office every day, but now I cannot directly oversee operations like before. Also, I can’t attend some meetings due to internet issues, which creates a delay in decision making.
Interviewer: How do you think SOIL is navigating these challenges?
Romel: SOIL has declared a state of emergency and has put in place a protocol to be followed during this time. We are doing our best to anticipate some of the challenges. When we have used our gas reserve, we try to find gas despite the challenge so that we can maintain our service.
The team continues to follow emergency protocols even though the majority of our staff are working remotely. Bravo to the team working on the ground (EkoLakay collectors) because they are always present to continue the service according to the emergency plan that allows them to do the job quickly and only work half a day.
Interviewer: What inspires you to continue to do this work despite all of the challenges?
Romel: SOIL has a vision and a mission and we can’t let go of what we do. The country is so vulnerable that we can’t let our customers down.
“Soil has a vision and a mission and we can’t let go of what we do. The country is so vulnerable that we can’t let our customers down.”
Interviewer: Is there anything you’d like to add or share about the current situation?
Romel: People who are fighting to live will not stop until there is change. SOIL is an organization that fights for people to have access to sustainable sanitation and will not stop until the whole country has sustainable sanitation coverage.
Interviewer: Is there anything you’d like to add about what other members of your team are doing?
Romel: The team trusts SOIL management the same way SOIL management trusts the team. This mutual trust creates a bond that impacts each person and the entire sanitation chain positively.
Join us in sending encouragement and gratitude to Romel for his service! He truly is a leader that keeps the team motivated, safe and supported.
Your continued support of SOIL is more critical than ever before. Maintaining access to in-home sanitation protects families and communities against public health crises and waterborne disease, and is intricately tied to human dignity. As we work to keep families safe and healthy, we thank you for being a part of our community and helping to ensure our doors stay open.
SOIL depends on individual donations from people like you to fund our work in Haiti. Please consider supporting SOIL today.