SOIL & Schools: Inspiring the Next Generation of Change Makers

Recent visitors from a local school.

Every day SOIL works to empower the communities we serve in northern Haiti, and the well-being of Haitian people is at the very heart of all that we do. We are always excited to share more about our regenerative sanitation services with the community to raise awareness and to let people know about our accessible household sanitation. We are even MORE excited when we get to share SOIL’s work with the next generation of changemakers: students! We were thrilled to welcome these eager visitors from the local schools around Cap-Haitien to tour our composting facilities in Limonade. So far this year we have welcomed nearly 400 secondary school students, aged 13 – 19, to visit and learn about the EkoLakay process.

Romel Toussaint, SOIL’s Senior Operations Manager, is responsible for readying the site for visitors and planning out the tours for the guests. Romel and his staff engage the visiting groups of kids in observational activities and conversations. 

“We start by explaining the entire sanitation chain,” he explains. “We show an EkoLakay toilet and demonstrate how to use it, then we walk through the composting site and describe the stages of composting and the type of activities the composting team does. Then the students visit the lab where we are growing the colony of Black Soldier Flies and they see the process of breaking down waste and the product we get from it.”

Students might be good at reciting and remembering things, but they often don’t make real connections to new information and ideas unless they experience them first hand. The EkoLakay tours help kids increase their knowledge about the complex topic of human waste, provide real experiences related to the topic of sanitation and, through direct observation, expand their awareness of how the treatment (or non-treatment) of human waste affects their own community.

Romel says that being up close to the toilets and the compost encourages the students to see human waste differently – as something that can be transformed into a fertilizer and used for growing food.

He continues, “SOIL’s work is to valorize human waste and show how waste can infect people when disposed of improperly, but when it’s treated appropriately, it can become a resource. It is important for us to change the students’ perception of human waste and to motivate them to be ecologically responsible.”

The principal of the school sees the tours as an orientation of sorts; exposing students to new options they can consider for future careers. SOIL not only creates dignified jobs at its facility and with its sanitation services, it also sells compost to promote agriculture and create a variety of employment opportunities for people in the community.

At SOIL we are deeply committed to working to generate economic opportunities for families and individuals living in one of the world’s most under-resourced communities, and making a connection to the community through school visits is a way that helps us to increase our impact. Outreach of this kind is not only a means of getting the word out about SOIL –  the pupils go home and tell their families and neighbors about our service – but also provides an opportunity for SOIL to work with local organizations and its leaders in order to ensure sustainability, inclusivity and accessibility. 

According to Romel, school visits are extremely valuable to everyone involved, they serve as a resourceful and unique activity for the students, and demonstrate how SOIL is a leader in ecological sanitation.

“One school principal even volunteered to be a SOIL Ambassador!” he said.

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