Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"Picking Flowers" in the back 40

We had one of those ‘charming’ breakfast discussions the other day … topics that seemingly pop out of mid-air.  Oftentimes they are non-consequential … but sometimes they strike a chord in my heart.

This was one of the latter.  And of all the things to talk about at breakfast: latrines! 

This conversation started because when we were shopping for cement fence posts, Cecilia had asked the cost of the piece of molded cement that serves as the base/floor of a latrine as well as the cement structure that serves as the stool.  Apparently they were pretty inexpensive!   People would also need 2 sheets of metal lamina sheeting to serve as a roof.  The families themselves would construct posts and hang towels or sheets or use heavy plastic sheeting to serve as walls.  The families would also be responsible for digging the hole for their latrine.
This is the base and stool made out of cement.  This is a NICE latrine!  Lamina walls!
Many just have heavy plastic or boards, or sheets or towels which serve as walls

The Pastoral Teams sees a latrine project as something quite necessary in the communities.  I thought there was an NGO currently working on a latrine project because I’ve seen some really nice latrines as we have driven through the cantons.

I asked Blanca about that and her answer was – yes.  ProVida and FISDL had latrine projects.  ProVida and FISDL worked in 3 of our cantons.  But not all the families in those 3 cantons received a latrine.  They didn’t provide them to an entire community.  For example: they might have had a latrine project in Loma Alta … but possibly only 24 of the 70+ families received them. 

I’ve been to MANY of the villages.  And I have walked door to door in many of the villages.  I have seen – and used some of the available facilities in the cantons.  When lucky enough to encounter a ‘real’ latrine – it’s humbling enough.  But when one is in need and encounters a ‘home-made’ structure – or worse … none at all – well.  For those of us accustomed to some of the ‘finer’ things in life – it isn’t a pleasant situation to be in.

There apparently are still many families who literally have to go out to the ‘back 40’ to go to the bathroom. 

So I asked the Pastoral Team to write up a budget for me and here is the synopsis:

$32  total cost for the cement base and stool (this cost includes the transportation to make the purchase)
$16  total for the two sheets of metal lamina sheeting
$2    per toilet for transportation to the communities from the Pastoral House.

So for a grand total of $50 – a family can have a clean and hygienic place to go potty.

$500 would take care of 10 families …
$1000 would take care of 20 families (the whole community of La Llanes for example!!)

So I’m writing this blog to see if anyone wants to ‘adopt a toilet’

Or even on a church-wide level – would a church that has been looking for a manner in which to support the Our Sister Parish mission like to support a few hygienic toilets?

Can’t you just see your next Christmastime efforts?  We at Heartland Presbyterian used to have an “Ángel Tree” for the children of people in prison … and we had a “Mitten Tree.”  This could be the year of the “Toilet Tree”

Hmm.   Maybe not.   There is probably a better way to raise funds for this sort of project.  Someone could bring a (clean) porcelain toilet to church, set it in the foyer and make a sign to put on the raised lid:  “place your $50 donation to provide a toilet to a family who has pee in the back yard

I daresay you might have a more eloquent way in which to create your signage!

I sometimes approach these things a bit tongue in cheek – but – this is a serious question that is coming next:

Anyone (or many ones) or any churches want to take this on?   

This sure makes a statement! (Thank you

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