Meet Yvrose: EkoLakay Coordinator

At SOIL, women’s voices are at the forefront of our work. As a women-led social enterprise, we’re committed to gender equity in livelihood creation and in hiring women in all positions, making a significant effort to recruit female employees.

During this Women’s History Month, we are celebrating the members of our staff (and DINEPA) who were selected as 2023 Women in Sanitation by sharing interviews and videos of these current history-makers that we are so proud to work alongside of. 

Recently we spoke with Yvrose Pailleur, one of SOIL’s EkoLakay coordinators, about her life and her job and what it’s like to be a woman working in sanitation.

Interviewer: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? 

Yvrose: I am a lady of Okap. I live and work here in Cap-Haitien. It is my home. I have a son who is 20. He lives here as well. 

Interviewer: What is your role at SOIL and what does a typical day look like? 

Yvrose: I am the Supervisor of Field Operations so I work out in the community a lot, and I work in our Cap-Haitien office as well. SOIL has a great deal of activities and responsibilities every day that I am involved in. We do container collections, field visits, and toilet installations. After an installation we schedule time to go back to the homes and check to make sure the toilets are being used correctly. We make especially sure that the children in the household understand how to use the toilet and the materials. After the installations we work to maintain the toilets. Sometimes there might be a little bit of a problem with one and so we go out to the home and do maintenance. We also do a lot of mobilization and education in Okap. We go out into the community almost every day and let people know about the service, how much it costs and how they can sign up. We also explain to people why sanitation is important for themselves and for Haiti.

InterviewerHow did you begin working at SOIL?

Yvrose: I started working at SOIL in 2013 and I love it. The first time I heard about SOIL was when SOIL sent a letter to the hospital where I had a job working with Konbit Sante. I was working in sanitation, working with HIV and cholera prevention. My job with that NGO was ending and I read SOIL’s job description and I was very interested. SOIL was looking for a supervisor and I feel very lucky that I got the job. When I arrived at SOIL, I realized how important the work they were doing is for the country and the impact it has and I’ve been here ever since spreading the message. 

InterviewerDo you have any thoughts about what the impact of sanitation can have on your community? 

Yvrose: SOIL’s work is very important in the community and for the people of Haiti. Our clients that have a SOIL toilet in their homes tell others about it and share information about how they work and about the EkoLakay service. We’ve learned that once you get one person talking about SOIL and the toilets, other people start to understand why they are good and realize that there are different options for toilets -– they don’t have to use latrines. Through word-of-mouth new people learn about the service and how to get a toilet, too and whenever we share information about sanitation it helps spread the word.

In addition to helping the community, the toilets are very important for individuals, especially women. SOIL toilets provide safety, privacy and intimacy for people, which allows them to be able to take care of other problems that come with not having a toilet of your own. 

Interviewer: Do you feel that working in sanitation is challenging or is any more challenging because you are a woman? 

Yvrose: Each neighborhood in Cap-Haitien is a little bit different and people think differently. I used to be out with the collectors more and in specific areas of the city it was challenging, people were surprised to see me. But being a woman was also helpful sometimes. Sometimes community members would give us a hard time and I was usually the one that would talk to the individuals and explain what we were doing, that we needed to do the collections and explain why. I was the one that was able to calm the situation. I’m more friendly than the men so people see me as less aggressive and are able to hear what I was saying. In Haiti there is more empathy for women than for men and so I often can talk though those tricky situations better. 

Interviewer: Where do you hope to see Haiti in the next ten years? 

Yvrose: I love Haiti and want it to be a beautiful country. A country where everyone has access to a toilet. Where everyone has access to education. Where everyone has access to sanitation. Where everyone has access to health care. Where everyone has access to potable water. Where everyone can find jobs. And once all of those things are in place, everyone can start working together—the greatest achievement! And then we will all be able to get Haiti to where it should be.  

In ten years I want to see a different Haiti. I don’t want to see trash when you look left and right. I don’t want to see latrines and waste in the streets. I want Haiti to be different than it is now.

Thank you to Yvrose and her incredible insight and dedication to SOIL’s work. We are so lucky to have her on our team. Join us in sharing your congratulations with Yvrose on her 2023 Women in Sanitation nomination!

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