An Unexpected Holiday Gift

The SOIL team was surprised on the last Friday before SOIL’s offices closed for the holidays when the particularly-jolly looking receptionist Merlande handed each member of SOIL’s team a festive holiday card followed by the request to “sign here!” One after another, every SOIL employee opened the cards that read “Jwaye Nwèl” (Merry Christmas in Haitian Creole) across the front, and quickly understood that we were being asked to sign for a generous end-of-the-year bonus.

Usually Fridays carry a more giddy mood than other work days, but this Friday’s mood was particularly jubilant with pride and solidarity. Inside each card was an explanation from Sasha that the gift was from her recent Sarphati Sanitation Award for Lifetime Achievement. “Pou nou onore jan chak moun kontribye nan travay ki te fè nou reyalize pwim sa, nou te deside fè yon pataj egal ego ant tout manm SOIL,” Sasha wrote, meaning “To honor the way in which each person has contributed to the work that won us this award, we decided to share it equally among each member of SOIL.”

We are deeply honored that Sasha has been recognized by this award, and we are humbled in her and SOIL’s decision to share it equally after committing half of the award to the general operating expenses. The Cap-Haitien compost team shared a heartfelt letter in response to this gesture of solidarity, saying “We say thank you from the bottom of our hearts, and we promise that we will continue to work so that SOIL can achieve even more in the world.”

Many members of the team noted that in socio-economically stratified Haiti, it wouldn’t be uncommon for such a bonus to be distributed unequally according to the person’s status or job title. To see that every single person on the team was signing for the same amount made us feel proud and united.

Our mission at SOIL is to promote dignity, health, and sustainable livelihoods through the transformation of wastes into resources. While we pride ourselves in paying living wages to our staff of almost 100 people, we also know that the needs of many of our team members and their families are great and that additional support can go a long ways.

Thank you to the nominating and selection committees for the Sarphati Award, thank you Sasha, and thank you to the SOIL family of supporters near and far! We feel so lucky to be supported in the work that we do to increase access to sustainable sanitation. 

Bòn Ane, Happy New Year,  from all of us here in Haiti!

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