More than ever, Peter and the children of the country continue to inspire us. They are the emblematic figures of today and tomorrow that are building a better future for Haiti. In the post-Matthew context, the story of Peter, 14 years old gives us hope. He lives in a remote and rural area in the South East of Haiti. What he has learned on the importance of using a latrine or on the good hygiene practices to avoid diseases, he disseminated it over and over in his community to help people staying healthy.
Peter lives in Nan Rada in the commune of Grand- Gosier located in the department of South East in Haiti. It is a remote and rural area of the country. In Haiti’s rural areas, it is estimated that only one in five people have access to improved sanitation. While one in three practices open defecation; a major risk factor for diseases such as diarrhoea, or worse – cholera. The Community Approach to Total Sanitation, known locally as “l’Approche Communautaire pour l’Assainissement Total’’ (ACAT) has been launched to mobilize families to build their own latrines and to adopt good hygiene practices, such as hand washing.
‘’I am a very good soccer player. I play in the local championship. I won a soccer award twice and my team went to the local championship three times. Later I would like to be a doctor so that I can heal people when they are sick.’’
Peter is in eighth grade. He is very active in his community and his involved in the ACAT ‘’Before this project, people would go to the bathroom in the field, often near other houses. It would attract flies and spoil food. So we decided to build toilet. An initiative came to our area. They had a meeting with all of us. They made a map of the houses and where people go to bathroom. This let us see where we are in danger of bacteria. With ACAT we bring change to the localities. The meeting was great. We all agreed to put our head together and today we start digging and we will help each other until we are finished. This help us being safe from viruses and diseases like cholera and diarrhea. When my neighbors are constructing a toilet. I help them dig the hole. I help them make the Tipitap (handwasher) and show them how to use it. This way they can live well and be healthy.”
Peter is also involved in the local youth club. This helps him it to disseminate the good practices of hygiene. We made a youth club together so I can help the kids with all their activities. I ask them if they have toilets. Some do and others don’t. Some of them have toilets but they don’t have hand-washers. So we make hand-washers together.
Peter has learned a lot with the agents that bring the ACAT in the locality. ‘’The project is so important because we can’t accomplish this alone but all together we can change things. Together, we can make this area beautiful. Together we can solve the problem in this area. I would like others communities to see Rada as an example. So their leader can also follow our project. So that they can also see the importance of building toilets everywhere.’’
Until now, the ACAT was applied with the support of UNICEF in 67 localities. That means that a little more than 10 000 people now live in an environment free of open defecation. Sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and good hygiene practices are the key to win the battle against waterborne diseases such as diarrhea or worst cholera.
This post is also available in: French