Back to School Time!

The weather has been sweltering here in Haiti, so it’s a bit hard to believe that it’s actually Back to School time. But my Facebook feed is full of adorable children heading off to the first day of school with bright smiles and oversized backpacks, and here in Haiti, families are paying their school fees, fitting uniforms, and making other preparations for the school to begin in a few weeks.

This fall, SOIL is having a bit of educational fun of our own. With some exciting new projects before us (more on that soon!), we’re planning several programs this fall to equip our staff with additional skills and knowledge. I wrote recently about SOIL’s commitment to staff development – to investing in our people and helping them grow in their roles at SOIL. Little did I know that supporting access to outside opportunities was just one way SOIL is promoting the development of our staff.


Regional Director Nick Preneta takes down questions during one of the sessions

For the first educational event, the directors decided to start at the very beginning: ensuring that all of our staff are well-informed about what SOIL already does. While this might seem silly from the outside, the reality is that many of our employees have pretty specialized roles, and don’t often get to see the  I’m lucky enough in my position to get to see all of our different activities in action, the majority of our employees only get to glimpse bits and pieces of the big picture during our weekly staff meetings.

So this week, the Port-au-Prince office held an in-house EcoSan workshop, similar to the trainings we put on for other NGOs and members of the public. It gave our Agriculture team a chance to learn about all of the different kinds of toilets, while our Sanitation team got a lesson on what makes SOIL’s compost so effective. Led by five members of SOIL’s leadership team, the sessions were full of engaging activities, including an inter-departmental challenge on the proper steps for using an EcoSan toilet (not surprisingly, Sanitation won that one).  And the participants were just as impressive, posing thoughtful questions, engaging in lively debate, and offering insight in their areas of expertise.


SOIL employees participate in a teambuilding exercise

Pierre Richard from the agricultural team commented on the day: “I have to say that my favorite part of the workshop was the part about agriculture, because that is the sector I work in. But what was so extraordinary about it was that I was really able to reflect on how the food that I grow with SOIL is digested and becomes poop which can then be transformed into compost so that we can again grow food. That is just extraordinary.”

Given the success of this first event, we are all looking forward to the other educational opportunities happening this fall. Stay tuned for more!

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