SOILHaiti 12 January 2018

Though we May Bend, We Will Never Break

EkoLakay compost

Photo: Melissa Schilling

In light of President Trump's disparaging and racist remarks about Haiti and unnamed countries in Africa yesterday, our team felt strongly that we should address these comments head on. We were particularly appalled that a world leader would have the insensitivity to make such a statement on the eve of the earthquake that created the conditions necessitating the TPS program.

In SOIL’s 11-year history we have worked beside some of the strongest, bravest, and kindest people we have ever known. It is our privilege to work in this beautiful, unique, revolutionary nation — not the other way around. And on this, the eighth anniversary of the earthquake that broke Haiti’s heart but never her spirit, we are proud to stand with the people of Haiti as partners, friends, family. The words of one man cannot erase this country’s history of boldly changing the face of the world.

We strongly condemn hatred and bigotry in all it’s forms and will not falter in our fight for justice in Haiti and throughout the world.

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Today, January 12th, we remember those we have lost, and celebrate the beauty and strength of a country that offers so much to the world. Experience it through our eyes.

Dear friends,

Every year in the days leading up to January 12, I am reminded of the moment when the lives of everyone in Haiti, and of all who love this small island in the Caribbean, changed forever. Haiti may be small in size, but this country has shifted the course of global history, from leading the liberation movement to strike down colonialism to showing the world the true face of loss and devastation in the wake of catastrophic natural disaster.

As our climate becomes increasingly unpredictable, natural disasters have become unrelenting in their force and frequency throughout the world. At SOIL, our hearts break every time we see news of hurricanes, floods, mudslides, forest fires, and earthquakes. We know firsthand the fear, the destruction, and the devastating loss that these events represent for those who experience them, especially those who are most vulnerable. We remember what it means to lose loved ones and the collective sadness that permeates the air for months following a disaster. Life in Haiti is filled with constant reminders of how hard it is for families to rebuild their lives and how long it takes for landscapes to recover from disasters. We cannot and must not shy away from taking responsibility for the role we play – it is our choices, our actions, our stubbornness that allow climate change to remain unchecked at the global level.

Though we are living through an historic moment when some among us would choose to cast doubt about the reality of climate change, those living in affected communities do not have the luxury of doubt. We know that we cannot expect natural disasters to recede from our daily lives – conversely, we are forced to accept that they will only increase in frequency and severity. For SOIL, this means that we must incorporate disaster preparedness into everything we do. We have no choice but to place risk mitigation at the heart of our work in developing safe and dignified sanitation systems for the world's most vulnerable communities. Our toilets and the systems that keep them operational are designed for resilience in the face of disasters and our treatment sites ensure the transformation of human waste into valuable compost to heal and stabilize the soils, helping protect communities from the effects of flooding and erosion, and accelerating the recovery of damaged ecosystems.

In shouldering our share of the responsibility for combatting climate change, the SOIL team’s dedication to one another and the communities we serve increases our own strength and resilience, leaving us ready to face future disasters with the courage of knowing that we are loved and supported.

Today we leave you with a message of hope, and a reminder of the work that remains to be done. We will never waver in our commitment to resilient, affordable, dignified sanitation systems that protect the world's most vulnerable populations, and we thank you for sharing this commitment with us. We will need your help in the days and years to come.

Thank you for standing with us in solidarity, love, and remembrance. Our collective compassion will ensure that though we may bend, we will never break.

With love from Haiti, Sasha and the SOIL team

“Nou se wozo, menm si nou pliye nou p ap kase” (we are like reeds; even though we may bend, we will never break) -Haitian Proverb

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