Theatre Group Promotes SOIL EcoSan Toilets in Haiti
In order to reach people who would most benefit from ecological sanitation, such as those in Cap-Haitien’s crowded slums without modern plumbing or electricity, SOIL is using innovative methods to break down cultural barriers towards ecological sanitation. SOIL has been collaborating with a small theatre group to develop a 20-minute sketch promoting the EcoSan toilets SOIL has been providing and maintaining over the years. Here is recap of the story, for entertainment, and for a better understanding of common obstacles SOIL has overcome over the years.
The play opens with the main character Djabolo speaking of his family’s many trials: they are so poor that they literally don’t have a pot to piss in, they are constantly ill with diarrhea, and their vegetables won’t grow in their barren plot. Enters Madanm Bwa, SOIL’s community organizer (her impersonator, that is) with the solution to all his problems: an EcoSan toilet. But Djabolo is not interested – a toilet inside the house? How disgusting! And a toilet without flush or plumbing – that’s like a car without tires! What folly.
However, he later realizes the importance of sanitation when a neighbor almost dies of cholera, most likely due to his own daughters throwing plastic bags they defecated into up onto the neighbor’s roof where she collects rainwater for drinking.
SOIL’s gleaming white toilet box and lid is met with astonishment and praise, and neighbors congratulate him on what they believe is his new refrigerator. But after Madanm Bwa explains how to use the toilet, and how SOIL collects buckets twice a week to turn poop into fertile, sanitized compost for growing gardens, family and neighbors are even more enthusiastic.
Djabolo almost changes his mind when he finds out that bucket collection will cost him 200 Goudes (less than $5) a month. But his wife reasons with him, pointing out that they spend over 600 Gdes a month on plastic bags to defecate in – so this beautiful, odorless and comfortable toilet would actually save them money!
The play ends with his neighbors running out to call Madanm Bwa to get a toilet of their own, and Djabolo’s family extolling their new toilet’s virtues.
The inaugural run of the play opened to an enthusiastic audience in Limbe (in northern Haiti) on May 1st, Haiti’s national holiday for agriculture and work. Over 30 SOIL employees attended the festival wearing matching SOIL t-shirts and extolling the benefits of EcoSan and EcoSan compost. Trees from the SOIL / Trees, Water & People nursery were available for sale as well as green bracelets saying “Konpos Lakay” (SOIL’s compost brand, means literally “Compost of the House”, figuratively “Local Compost”) and small sample bags of EcoSan compost.
As a result of the play’s roaring success, the theater group plans to repeat the performance at workshops and festivals around Haiti in the interest of increasing use of SOIL’s low-cost, environmental sanitation technologies.