[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Another great cause in Haiti
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue May 13 08:36:16 BST 2008
(From occasional SA visitor Sasha)
101_0186.JPGHi friends and family,
We have received several emails from friends in the past week asking
what they can do to address the food crisis in Haiti. It has been
several months since our last update, and we wanted to reach out to our
friends and supporters and fill you in on the progress of SOIL and SOL.
Many of you may have read about the dire economic situation in Haiti,
skyrocketing prices for basic goods, and the food riots last month.
Throughout the turmoil, SOIL has continued to work on the ground with
our colleagues in SOL. We have seen firsthand the anguish of mothers who
can no longer afford to feed their children, the fear in children’s eyes
as they walk home from school under threat of violence and unrest, and
the courage and resilience of families struggling to survive under the
weight of rising prices.
Prices of food staples are rising worldwide for a variety of reasons
(according to the New York Times):
1. Increased fuel prices. Any product that must be shipped by air or
ground will have increased transportation costs associated with its
price. Also, the price of chemical fertilizers—which are energy
intensive to produce—is climbing.
2. Growing demand for meat, especially from increasingly affluent
populations in China and India. More grain is being used in meat
production rather than in direct human consumption. Meat based diets
require about 7 times more land than plant based diets.
3. Droughts related to global warming lowering global production.
4. Investment in fuel and food supplies as commodities driving up market
5. Competition for grains and fertilizer to make ethanol for fuel.
Almost 50% of last year’s US corn production was turned into ethanol.
Prices of rice, grain, and corn have increased 50-100% in the last 3
months. Though this is a worldwide phenomenon, the effects are more
pronounced in a country like Haiti where people spend up to 75% of their
income on food. Ironically, food aid from wealthier countries further
exacerbates the cycle of dependency and the inability of poor countries
like Haiti to sustain themselves. For example, in the 1980’s the US
exported rice to Haiti grown by US farmers who had been subsidized by
the US government. The influx of cheap rice put local many farmers out
of business and they still have not recovered. Haitian national
production has dropped 20% in the last decade and now over 60% of their
food is imported, due to a combination of trade policies, reduced soil
fertility and food aid. This increasing reliance on imported food makes
the country extremely vulnerable to shifts in the global market.
Ironically, many of the short term food aid which is being provided to
ease the crisis may actually deepen the problem in the long term.
Sustainable solutions to the food crisis must be targeted at enhancing
local agricultural production and improving rural livelihoods.
101_0131.JPGI encourage those of you who want to make a difference to
consider sharing a portion of your tax return this year with our
organization. SOIL is working to address the root of the problem by
increasing natural fertilizer production, creating livelihood
opportunities and empowering communities to develop their own creative
solutions to the problems they are facing. Local, natural fertilizers
and food are less expensive and provide local employment. To date we
have constructed 48 public composting toilet facilities and are working
on a large scale household sanitation project and municipal composting
site in the city of Cap Haitien. Our ecological sanitation program is
targeted directly at transforming dangerous human wastes into valuable
fertilizer. If Haiti was able to recycle 50% of their human wastes, the
country could increase their fertilizer inputs 17 fold, which would mean
a significant increase in national production.
Please understand that even a very small donation can make an impact on
our program. We are a young organization, funded primarily by
individuals. We have a solid staff of 7 employees who work tirelessly
with communities to create a large impact with limited resources. We
currently have over 20 unmet letters of request from communities seeking
sustainable sanitation options and your donation will go towards
responding to these requests.
To make a tax deductible donation mail a check made out to SOIL to:
124 Church Rd.
Sherburne, NY 13460
Or donate securely online at our website: http://www.oursoil.org/donate.php
Below are some of the achievements from the last 3 months. Thanks for
helping make SOIL’s work possible!
For a printable version of this update with photos see the attached pdf.
Sending you our love from Haiti!
Sasha, Sarah and Kevin
Foundation for Global Community Grant
We received a grant from the Foundation for Global Community in March
that will allow us to build 10 school or community dry toilets and do
the Looking Through Their Eyes Photo Project and the Garbage Doesn’t
Exist contest with hundreds of youth. We have about 30 letters from
various community groups asking us to work with them to provide
sanitation in their communities, so this grant will give us a good start
on responding to them. We will also finally purchase mopeds for the
Borgne and Milot Tech Centers to cut down on their commute times and
help them get to remote communities for educational programs.
Make Yourself Foundation Grant
We received a $10,000 grant in early February from the Make Yourself
Foundation sponsored by the rock band Incubus. This money came at a
critical time for SOIL and was quickly used to carry out the exciting
work of the past months. We hope that the band will pay us a visit in
Shipping sponsorship and removal of donations from the port
As many of you know, we’ve had donations stuck in shipping since August.
In April we were finally able to liberate them from the port thanks to
the generosity of Haiti Shipping Lines and the patience of the Cap
Haitien customs agents. Last year SOIL was sponsored by AMG shipping, a
company in Miami. Sadly this year AMG terminated its service to Cap
Haitien and sent our donations on another shipping line Haiti Shipping
Lines. They arrived in early January, but we didn’t find out until late
February. At the same time we found out that we owed the new shipping
line for shipping and storage fees. We wrote to Haiti Shipping Lines and
explained the situation and they graciously agreed to sponsor SOIL,
starting by waiving the shipping charges for the items already donated.
At the end of April, after one week of inventory control in the port we
finally got all of the donations back to the house. We are so grateful
to Herb and Gloria Barker, who sent thousands of t-shirts and hats, and
Patricia Dahlberg who sent 25 boxes of medicine. The t-shirts and hats
will be distributed to soccer teams, grassroots organizations, and for
volunteers who participate in educational events or help out with
projects. Unfortunately due to the long wait time on the medicines (they
were shipped in early August) some of them had expired and were
confiscated by the Ministry of Public Health, but most of the medicine
and surgical supplies were salvaged and will be distributed among
hospitals in Cap Haitien and Borgne, community health agents, and other
Tortug Air Sponsorship
The local Haitian airline Tortug Air has agreed to sponsor SOIL and SOL
with two free round trip tickets per month between Port-au-Prince and
University of Miami Intersession in Haiti
SOIL held our first University of Miami intersession course in Cap
Haitien from January 2-11, Sustainable Development Challenges in Haiti.
The 10 students who participated in the course were able to visit SOIL
numerous SOIL projects and participate in the building of the first dry
toilet in Shada and a 2nd toilet at Projet Pierre Toussaint, a
residential school for former street kids. SOIL also is working on a
collaboration with the Millenium Village Project coordinated through
UM’s Global Institute for Community Health and Development.
UC Santa Cruz Alternative Spring Break and
At the end of March we hosted a group called HEAP, which included 8
students from UC Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz Community College. They
visited various sites where we have projects and helped with the
construction and inauguration of a toilet in Shada.
Toilet Construction in Shada with AIDG
AIDG agreed to sponsor two toilets only if the overhung latrines--stick
houses elevated above the ocean so that wastes fall directly into the
water and pigs below--would be torn down. The community gratefully tore
down the overhung latrines in exchange for new dry toilets. These two
toilets include a special seat designed for children that we are trying
for the first time.
Shada Technology Center
We have raised enough to rent the soon-to-be Shada Technology Center for
the youth of UJDS (Teenagers Together for Shada) for 5 years. Thank you
to everyone who helped fund this project!!! The youth that make up UJDS
were first a group of neighborhood youth who met Sundays under the
direction of Mdm Bwa, a community leader who taught them manners,
hygiene and public speaking. They participated in the Looking Through
Their Eyes Photo project. The discussions from the photo project led
them to organize the youth group UJDS. They then participated in our
first Garbage Doesn’t Exist Contest to transform trash into something
useful or beautiful. Their sandal designs made from water bags, rags,
and cardboard inspired us to look for ways to help them create small
business making products out of garbage—this will be the main work of
the Shada technology center. Once we pay the rent on the new tech
center, the building owner will finish the 2nd floor so that we can
install a water tank and treat water with a UV system donated by Clean
Water For the World. We are also looking for a manual sewing machine
capable of sewing shoes…in case anyone out there has any leads.
Adopt a Toilet
We’ve completed our second “Adopt-a-Toilet” at a school in Grand Pre.
This toilet was a group adoption by 12 people. The first
“Adopt-a-Toilet” constructed in Twa Ravine with a peasant farmer
organization, was adopted by members of the Land Institute in Salina, KS.
Shada School Fund
Only 1 of the UJDS members (Mdm Bwa’s grandson) was in school when the
group started, but the group decided that they believe that all children
should have the right to go to school. One of their first collective
actions was to hold sit-ins at local schools. UJDS members went to
school without being registered, having uniforms, or having books. When
they were thrown out, they chose another school. After three days of
sit-ins, a Canadian journalist, Darren Ell who was visiting the SOIL
house, was moved by their story to fundraise for their school fees. Now
all the UJDS members are in school and enough was raised to pay their
fall fees also, thanks to many generous donors around the world!
UV Water Disinfection with Clean Water for the World
Paul Flickinger and Ed Harkness from Clean Water for the World spent a
few weeks visiting us, installing a donated solar-powered UV water
treatment system for Nan Sab (near the town of Borgne). It is installed
near a well that many of the people in the village use for drinking
water. We are still in need of a pump to move the water from the well
into the UV system. Right now people have to lift the water out of the
well in buckets and pour it into an elevated bucket. Paul and Ed also
brought two other systems, one for the Shada Tech center and one for
another location in Borgne to be selected by the Wesleyan church that
still needs a solar panel and battery.
Community Compost Site
The Mayors of Milot have offered some beautiful government land near the
community of Larivye Henri as a site for a community compost site for
all of Cap Haitien. We will partner with Oxfam, AIDG, OIM and the local
governments to develop the site as a place to transform dry toilet and
latrine wastes into methane gas and fertilizer. We are waiting on
official documentation of our right to use the land, but hope to be
moving on this project within the next few months. A few of the UC Santa
Cruz students are interested in working with us as interns to help
develop this site as well as a household composting program for Milot.
In the meantime we will organize some community educational events and
construction of a community dry toilet in the area, so that people will
have an understanding of what we will be doing at the site.
Partnership with Vwa Ayiti International
SOIL has informally collaborated with Vwa Ayiti International, a
Washington DC based development organization. Vwa Ayiti is already
operating some of the most beautiful dry toilets in Haiti, covered with
murals painted by a local artist. We are currently developing plans for
a formal partnership between Vwa Ayiti International and SOIL for
sanitation, beginning with projects in Bod Mer Limbe.
Contract with United Nations and Organization for International Migration
It appears likely that SOL will be contracted by the United Nations
CNDDR (responsible for disarmament) and the Organization for
International Migration (OIM) for a sanitation project in Shada I and
II. This project began with a proposal from the Cap Haitien Mayor’s
office to the UN that we helped write about a year ago. It will provide
10 toilets in each area. We already have an extensive relationship with
the community in Shada II and have built three dry toilets there, two in
partnership with the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG).
Sasha Kramer, Ph.D.
Co-founder Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL)
Adjunct Professor of International Studies, University of Miami
sashakramer at gmail.com
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