All in the Family

We always talk about SOIL as a family, but with our two offices a six-hour drive apart, sometimes we can feel more like distant cousins than close-knit siblings. Fortunately, a recent staff development initiative this fall (check out our other activities here) provided a much-needed opportunity for some family bonding.

As with any family reunion, there was plenty of laughter, good-natured teasing (Port-au-Prince is the reigning inter-office soccer champion), and delicious food – but there were also two full days of presentations, discussions, questions, brainstorming, site tours, and technical workshops.

This training exchange was designed to share knowledge and experience around EkoLakay, SOIL’s household toilet social business pilot. While the Cap-Haitien team has been working on the development of this model for years, and is serving over 250 families, the Port-au-Prince office has largely been focused on post-earthquake humanitarian relief (in the form of free public toilets in tent camps) and only recently begun working towards implementing the EkoLakay model here.

So with support from the American Red Cross, eight members of the Port-au-Prince Sanitation, Administration, and Technical teams recently traveled to Cap-Haitien to work with their counterparts and benefit from their experience. The two-day exchange covered everything from toilet construction methods to payment collection and community engagement. While the exchange was obviously very useful for the Port-au-Prince team, the Cap-Haitien staff also found it helpful to have the opportunity to reflect on what’s worked well (continuous improvements to toilet design based on customer feedback) and what hasn’t (a volunteer door-to-door payment collection team).

We are incredibly grateful to the American Red Cross for making this initiative happen and helping to further strengthen the capacity of the SOIL team. As we move forward with creating sustainable businesses in both Cap-Haitien and Port-au-Prince, we are looking forward to many more opportunities for knowledge exchange and family bonding (with a fierce soccer competition, of course) between the offices!


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