Adith Pierre works in the field as an Animator for Haiti Outreach in our Arcahaie office. This courageous and fiery young woman has been brilliantly leading communities for 2 years. She regularly travels throughout the region to meet with community leaders. Ofte she can be found training communities who are in the process of discerning how to manage their water well, giving insights on how to build latrines, or giving instruction on the importance of proper hand-washing to prevent the spread of deadly diseases. During her visits, she never forgets to stress the importance of practicing proper hygiene at home. Her outgoing personality makes her a joy to be around and her knowledge gives her a great deal of credibility with the people she engages. She finds great satisfaction in her work and shared, “I benefit from the trust of the community and participate in the management of health problems and that makes me happy.”
This is not just a job to Adith Pierre, but a mission to ensure the health and well-being of her fellow Haitians that she takes very seriously. She knows firsthand the value of having access to drinking water, of hand washing with clean water and soap, and using designated latrines in the community. Many children in Haiti die from preventable causes, such as diarrhea or acute respiratory infections. Water, hygiene, and sanitation interventions are of the utmost importance, and the approach to solving these problems is just as critical. That is why Haiti Outreach, in collaboration with UNICEF, enrolls communities and the local government in an approach referred to as Community-led Total Sanitation.
This model encourages people to become responsible for their own health and future. Rather than building latrines for the people, in this approach, Haiti Outreach encourages the people (with some practical guidance) to build their own latrines. We have found that this approach leads to more successful results, as people are more likely to use the latrines and hand-washing facilities if they create them instead of receiving them from a third party. Our monitoring and evaluation team has reported that 83% of the communities that Haiti Outreach has engaged have demonstrated a commitment to proper sanitation by building and using their own latines. Additionally, recent studies have shown that the use of latrines reduces the risk of disease by 32%.
Adith Pierre, who maintains very good relations with the population, does not lose sight of the difficulties faced by the communities. “Talking about open defecation a few weeks ago was bordering on indecency. Now hand washing devices with soap are found in nearly all of the latrines [the community members have built for themselves]. “
One such example comes from Joseph Manno’s family. When Mr. Manno’s two children Joshua and Erlene (aged 4 and 5) return home from school, the first thing they do is to wash their hands. This gesture gives Adith a huge smile. The facilitator explains, “In less than a year of implementing this approach, these communities were encouraged to [think] for themselves about the faults and risks of their health situation and to use their creativity and local resources to eliminate open-air defecation*. ” In Adith’s opinion, this is a great approach to raising awareness, taking charge of hygiene and sanitation, and empowering communities.
*open-air defecation is a technical way of saying going to the bathroom anywhere in the open