Update to Our Supporters
Tomorrow marks 6 months since the devastating earthquake. I wanted to take this evening to reflect on the past 6 months and to share with you some of our activities and challenges. It has been months since my last letter and I apologize for the lack of communication. Since my last update in March our team has been working 50-60 hours per week on sanitation projects in both Port au Prince and Cap Haitien and it has been hard to find space for reflection and communication. It is late Sunday night and the moon is shining down on the capital, reflecting on the storm washed streets and plastic tarps as the city sleeps, reminding me of how many moons have passed since January 12. I know that all of you have been holding Haiti in your thoughts and I am so grateful that you have shared this struggle with us through your support from afar.
The SOIL team has been through some tremendous changes in the past 6 months and we are only now beginning to settle into the rhythm of the changes. Our most difficult transition has been the resignation of SOIL co-founders Sarah Brownell and Kevin Foos in February. Shortly after the earthquake Sarah and Kevin found out they were pregnant and made the decision to return to the US and focus on their family. We miss them terribly and will always remember their contribution to building SOIL, but we are excited about this new chapter in their life and wish them the very best. Our team now has 2 new international staff members, Nick Preneta and Amy Ross who have been focusing on developing our emergency response program in Port au Prince. In the capital we have 12 new full time employees and 50 toilet managers working on ecological sanitation projects in IDP (internally displaced person) camps. Our project director from Cap Haitien, Baudeler Magloire, has also relocated to the capital and has taken over project management for the new team. In Cap Haitien, Josapha Augustin and Chantal Augustin continue to run our ongoing ecological sanitation and composting projects, directing a team of 25 employees.
In the wake of the earthquake SOIL received over $70,000 in relief donations. Every penny of that money went directly into the hands of Haitians who needed it. Here is some of the work that we have been able to do with your generous support over the past 6 months:
• Delivered over 100,000 gallons of water to displaced people living in camps throughout the city.
• Gave over $25,000 to community organizers, who purchased food from local businesses and delivered to areas most in need, reaching thousands of families.
• Purchased and distributed over 1,000 tarps, providing temporary shelter to displaced families.
• Provided logistics and medicines for mobile health clinics, medical translation, and transport of patients between hospitals.
In Cap-Haitien, SOL was one of the first organizations to provide aid for victims of the earthquake relocating to the North:
• Rented tents for the hospital and mayor’s office in Milot
• Purchased and distributed $30,000 of food, medicine and hygiene kits to earthquake victims in hospitals and temporary IDP camps in the north.
Ongoing Recovery Efforts
In mid March we shifted from emergency relief work to recovery and development work. Building on our previous sanitation experience in the north we have partnered with OXFAM GB to implement ecological sanitation systems in camps throughout the capital in an effort to simultaneously provide:
• Safe access to sanitation
• Environmentally sound waste treatment
• Livelihood generation through waste collection and composting business development
To date we have:
• Built 81 ecological toilets in 19 camps and temporary schools throughout the city
• Constructed a pilot composting site for treatment of toilet wastes in the capital
• Trained over 50 masons to build urine diversion toilets
• Provided community education around ecological sanitation to over 2000 people
The earthquake of January 12 may have lasted only 1 minute but Haitians will feel its effects for decades. Please consider making a sustained commitment to recovery through a regular donation on the 12th of each month in commemoration of this tragedy. You can now donate online at www.oursoil.org. Thank you for all the support you have provided in the past. We ask for your continued collaboration as we walk the path of recovery with our friends and colleagues that breathe the dust of fallen buildings each day.
With love from Port au Prince,