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Monday, November 14, 2011

Building Compost Toilets in Haiti and a Trip to Cite Soleil

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Last week was truly a busy one!  It started with my return to Haiti after being gone for 3 weeks.  I spent 4 days in Brazil visiting my brother and becoming the Godfather to my almost 2-year-old nephew, followed by a week in Las Vegas that included a visit from my oldest brother and his wife, along with the Board of Directors retreat for the House of Blue Hope in Tanzania.  You can read about the retreat here.  The rest of the time was spent in Ft. Lauderdale, organizing H.E.R.O. donations and preparing for the holiday season.  As soon as I hit the ground in Port-au-Prince last Saturday, it has been non-stop!

One of the meetings I had last week was to see if an organization named Give Love would be able to help install compost toilets at the school our children attend.  I am attaching a picture of what the toilets look like now, which for your information, look a lot better than they smell!  Not only are the toilets used by the school during the day, but they are also used by the community.  They smell gross, look gross, and are gross.  Thankfully, I managed to gain contact with Jean Lucho, the Country Director of Give Love and the person responsible for choosing potential sites for the installation of a new compost toilet system.  Lucho and I visited the school last Thursday, met with the Director, and the school has been selected to receive the compost toilets!  While Give Love provides the funding, materials, and labor for the construction of the toilets, it is the responsibility of the receiving organization to pay for the maintenance, upkeep, and labor required to empty the toilets on a daily basis.  The system installed by Give Love is a closed-loop system whereby the waste from the compost toilets is then placed into compost bins, which after 6 months, can be used as fertilizer.  The project is scheduled to be completed in less than a month!

After our meeting, Lucho invited me to ride along to Cite Soleil, a city in Haiti that was recently labeled as the most dangerous city on earth by the United Nations.  At one point police vehicles would not enter Cite Soleil as they would immediately come under fire.  However, the area is now more pacified thanks to UN mobilization and the work of several non-profit organizations.  As a precaution, however, I had the Director of the H.E.R.O. House ask a friend of his to ride along with us, a massive individual, who played the role of bodyguard during our excursion.  We convoyed to Cite Soleil in three vehicles and arrived at a dilapidated school building.  The project, as Lucho explained, was to move the students from the dilapidated school to a new school that is being built by Digicel nearby.  As we toured the new Digicel building, we were fortunate to encounter Manuel, a self-composing musician who played a song about Haiti and the aftermath of the earthquake.  You can listen to his song here.  In a country of 9 million people, Haiti is home to thousands of aspiring artists.  The musical and artistic talent that exists in this country is truly amazing.

This week will surely contain many new adventures and experiences.  As always, if you have any questions or comments about our work in Haiti, or want to share your ideas for how we can make our programs even better, don’t hesitate to contact me at  I think the evidence is clear.  When organizations such as H.E.R.O., House of Blue Hope, and Give Love work together for the benefit of nations around the world, good things really do happen.  Join us on this adventure to make the world a better place for our children! 


Steven M. Kirby, Ed.D

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