Happy Earth Day 2015!
It should come as no surprise that Earth Day is always a busy day at an organization like SOIL, and this year is no exception. Today we hosted 3 very different groups of visitors, but who were all interested in SOIL’s eco-friendly activities.
Our first visitors of the day were a small group of Americans who have been in Haiti since the late 90s. They are working on designing an education center for their scholarship program in Deschappelles, a town in the Artibonite region of Haiti. They are interested in incorporating composting toilets into their designs, so they wanted to come check out SOIL’s work. They had lots of great questions about different types of toilets SOIL has used, our waste treatment process, and how ecological sanitation might work in their community.
Next up was a group of young soccer players from Massachusetts who are here in Haiti for the week. They began their week with a drive though Port-au-Prince and were struck by the waste they saw in the piling up in the streets outside the market, so they’ve spent some time visiting organizations who are working on transforming waste into useful resources, including SOIL and our neighbor, PeaceCycle. We had a great discussion about compost toilets in Haiti as a leapfrog technology (i.e., skipping over flush toilets, in the same way Haiti skipped over landlines and went straight to cell phones) because standard flush toilets are so wasteful of water and resources. It was awesome to see this group of teens really get it – and get excited about using pee in their gardens at home!
To finish out the day, we hosted a group of local children from an orphanage in our area. “We’re passionate about teaching kids about agriculture, being resourceful, and learning to be sustainable,” said Megan Gerde, one of the field trip organizers, who was glad that the children got to see “how others are using their resources for good.” While the kids got a real kick out of a few poop jokes as I explained how our toilets work, they were really struck by our walk through the garden. One young visitor, Riclaide, stepped forward and said, “Thank you for inviting us to do this visit to see the work you do, and we’re happy that you could encourage us in the work that we’re doing!” Indeed, the group took home a few bags of SOIL’s compost for an Earth Day tree-planting back at their orphanage. “Who knows how many trees you’re going to plant today?” I asked. One young man raised his hand. “A LOT!!!!” he volunteered.
While we waited for their tap-tap to come pick them, the kids staged an impromptu talent show with singing and rapping. They ended with a group rendition of “We are the World,” perhaps the best way possible to end an amazing Earth Day.