June 2011: Dear Friends of SOIL

Dear Friends,

I have waited to write this letter to you, waited to have some good news to share, wanted toshare hope and not disillusionment, wanted to reassure you that the program we have developed since the earthquake will continue to serve families in need.

But as today marks the first day of hurricane season in Haiti, cholera is on the rise again and SOIL is poised to begin closing down our public toilets in the camps of Port au Prince for lack of funds, I can wait no longer.  SOIL was built on the kindness of our friends and supporters around the world.  For four years we grew our organization on your generosity alone, your belief in us allowed us to introduce a new technology, to empower an incredible team and to make a lasting impact on the communities in which we have worked and I am ever grateful.  But now, as we face the terrible decision of where to withdraw our support, how to scale back our interventions despite the ongoing suffering I feel a senseof frustration and desperation that compels me to reach out to those of you who made SOIL what it is today.

In February 2010 SOIL was approached by Oxfam GB and invited to partner on bringing safe sanitation to thousands of people made homeless by the earthquake.  For one year we worked with Oxfam and with their support we were able to construct 200 public toilets in IDP camps throughout the shattered capital, serving nearly 20,000 people.  We also developed the largest waste treatment site in Haiti, converting 5000 gallons of human wastes into nutrient rich soil each week.  SOIL has become a national leader in this innovative technology and to date we have provided training seminars on ecological sanitation to nearly 40 other national and international organizations working in Haiti.

The support from Oxfam quadrupled our yearly budget and allowed us to reach thousands of people we would not have otherwise been able to serve.  But it also taught us a valuable lesson about emergency work; that the impacts are temporary, that projects implemented in an emergency setting can seldom be sustained beyond the emergency phase and that it is very challenging to leave anything behind.

With your help SOIL can continue to operate with the integrity that has always been the hallmark of our programs. SOIL is currently supporting 120 toilets in camps in Port au Prince, serving over 10,000 people. Though it will be challenging to continue with our current program with only private donor support, even a small contribution from you can help us to responsibly transition out of the camps where we are currently providing services. Your support can give us the time to seek out other organizations to take our place and work with camp committees to identify options for relocation to temporary shelters and neighborhoods. For those of you who have connections with foundations or other donor agencies perhaps you can support us by contacting them and recommending our work.

Although we are discouraged we have not given up hope and despite the difficult decisions before us we are very proud of all that we have been able to accomplish over the past year with your support.  SOIL has begun the process of revolutionizing sanitation interventions in Haiti and we could not have done it without you. So thank you, thank you, thank you.  We are so very grateful to all of you who have kept us afloat over the years and we will keep you updated as our strategy evolves.

Please pass this on to friends and colleagues who may be able to help.  Even a small donation means so much more than mere financial support…it is your love and belief in us that give us the strength to overcome obstacles.

With love from Port au Prince,

Be the first to donate at SOIL’s new website: https://www.oursoil.org/newwordpress/?page_id=93.

This website is still under construction but we expect it to be officially released in the coming weeks.  We wanted to offer you a sneak preview before it goes live and hope you will pardon any remaining glitches.

You can also donate securely online at SOIL’s current website www.oursoil.org or by sending a check addressed to SOIL to:

124 Church Rd.
Sherburne, NY 13460

For more information on our program please see the following news articles which have highlighted our work.  

New York Times: http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/12/01/opinion/1248069392074/the-miracle-toilet.html
National Geographic: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/field/explorers/sasha-kramer
Sierra Magazine: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/201105/act.aspx
Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/13/huffposts-greatest-person_17_n_808534.html

For the most recent update tune in to PRI’s The World on Thursday June 2 to hear a radio interview about SOIL’s work in Haiti. http://www.theworld.org/2011/06/composting-toilet-haiti/

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