Goats, Blindfolds, and Bandits: SOIL Hosts Training for Red Cross Staff

Blindfolded participants navigating their way through a web of ropes, a forest of saplings, and around a goat? While it may sounds like some kind of strange party game, this was actually an educational demonstration during a recent SOIL workshop.

SOIL hosted its first Green Recovery Reconstruction Training (GRRT), part of our continuing collaboration with the Red Cross and the World Wildlife Foundation. This training was the first in a series of new workshops, each of which focus on ecological sanitation in Haiti within the context of disaster risk reduction, environmental awareness, and climate change adaptation. The day began with a thorough discussion of the underlying social, political, and ecological factors that affect physical environments, as well as an explanation of how EcoSan can ameliorate some of those effects.

In order to better illustrate these ideas, the team moved outside to an interactive obstacle course. The course featured several SOIL staff in their acting debuts as business people, politicians, and gang leaders, whom participants had to negotiate with in order to implement EcoSan in their community. While everyone had a lot of fun, the activity also attempted to represent the pressure that activists can sometime experience when advocating for change.

Participants’ experiences in the obstacle course led to a lively discussion about the importance of thoughtful communication and local involvement. Everyone agreed that employing community members to help with local EcoSan projects is good for the community (by generating new employment opportunities that can in turn impact other social issues, like gang violence and hunger) and for the project (by incorporating local knowledge and leveraging local leadership).

Although composting toilets and discussions of environmental degradation marked unfamiliar territory for many participants, by the end of the day, participants saw that EcoSan techniques were incredibly relevant to addressing many of Haiti’s problems. Plus, people described SOIL’s toilets as pwatik (practical) and koul (cool)!

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