Mission Moments: Haiti
A loo with a view
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
A mountainside latrine built by Climbing For Christ’s New Generation in Majon, Haiti. (Photos by C4CNG)
My very first assignment on my very first mission trip was to dig in the hard, rocky soil under a blazing Mexican sun to put in a septic system. Welcome to the glamourous life of a missionary.
Everyone Poops. That’s the name of a popular (sort of) children’s book. We had two copies in our house when our kids were younger. It’s also the reality of life. Everyone goes to the bathroom – no matter what we call it in whatever culture we live.
Toilet, water closet, baño, loo, squatty, privy, latrine. Everyone needs a place to “go,” and too often in the mountains of Haiti that place is wherever you happen to be when so moved.
Imagine schools in four villages with more than 400 students and no bathroom facilities. Messy.
Climbing For Christ serves spiritual needs and physical ones. When C4C New Generation leader Gilbert Lindor reported about the need for latrines in each of those schools – in Gentilhomme, Kalmette, Majon, and Malasi – we started praying. The prayer for $2,000 USD to build was answered, funds were delivered, materials purchased, and C4CNG’s Gaston Louis-Jean went to work.
“Since the 23rd of last month, Gaston left his house and he has not returned to his house until today,” Gilbert reported nine days later on March 4. “He has been working hard to build each latrine in each of our schools.”
That work continued for several more weeks, including the painting of the new latrines in the traditional C4C Haiti pink.
Those of us living in so-called developed countries might take for granted the effort needed to build a bathroom. We call a contractor, a plumber, or maybe we go the do-it-yourself route and roll up our sleeves after a visit to our favorite home-improvement store.
It’s a different world when you must use a pick-axe or a shovel to dig in rocky soil. When you must bring in water from somewhere else because there is none where you are working. When the concept of using a latrine must be taught like reading and spelling.
“I think they will need a training to use latrines,” Gilbert said.
Still, the villagers who have gone without since, well, forever recognized the value of this project.
“Each activity C4CNG wants to do in the communities, we announce it first and depending on how people show their motivation, we know if we (should) do it or we leave it,” Gilbert explained. “From the day we announced this project, people showed how good it was to have (latrines) to relieve themselves.
“We asked a parent about the amount of latrines in the village and he said there is only one person with a latrine.”
Now more than 400 children have a place to go. A new generation is being taught the value of sanitation by C4C’s New Generation.