Friday, November 23, 2012

Latrine Update

Well, it’s taken a while but we haven’t forgotten about all of your wonderful contributions to help our village vastly improve our sanitation through building latrines and hand washing stations. It took a while for things to get started because of rainy season. However, even once rainy season drew to a close, people still seemed to be taking their sweet time digging their holes, making their bricks, and building the latrines. As my depart from village drew near, I began to get more and more worried. Could they possibly build all of these latrines before I left? I was doubious.
Less than a week before I was scheduled to leave village, my counterparts took me on a tour to see the progress of all the latrines. It was very disheartening. “Guys!” I exclaimed. “I’m leaving in FIVE DAYS and you’ve barely started!” But leave it to my village to surprise me. A couple days later, we did another tour and I was blown away. The “most improved” award was a three-way tie between families who had not even started digging their hole at the first tour. Bricks had been made so all they had to show for months of supposed work was a pile of bricks. In a matter of only two days, they had dug a hole (2m x 1m x 1m, which is pretty big), lined it with bricks, set the platform, and were finishing the walls. Over half of the latrines were completely finished and the rest were very close. I was so proud.
We gathered at least one representative from each family to come to a hygiene lesson. We talked about how to maintain a clean latrine and then about hand washing. Each family, along with various “restaurant” owners (restaurant in this case mostly refers to a woman on the side of a path from whom you can buy rice for about 40 cents) received a hand washing station. These were made from plastic jugs that we put faucets on. The owner fills it with water then has easily flowing water with which to wash their hands. Otherwise, they usually dip their hands in a big bowl of dirty communal water. We explained that this method is essentially just everyone sharing germs with each other and emphasized the importance of using clean “running” water and soap. Everyone also received soap. We played a little game where we asked the group hygiene questions and those who could respond correctly won soap.
All in all, I am very satisfied with the project. It wouldn’t have been possible without all of your contributions and I can’t thank you enough. If you have any questions about the project, feel free to ask. Otherwise, I’ll leave it at “Thank you!”

A family with their latrine and hand washing station (the latrine is not quite finished - the walls will be a little higher)

I'm "helping" dig the latrine hole ;)

People with their hand washing stations sitting through a lesson on how to properly maintain latrines and wash their hands etc.

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