Tuesday, June 2, 2009

latrines for everybody!

today i woke up with an agenda -- there were a bunch of people i wanted to see and distribute a second round of seeds to both in this village and another. but then kandji wilane showed up before breakfast as i was watering some trees and said, "aissatou, i'm building my latrine today. you have to come over."

he needed me to show the masons what to do, which was a little bit of a daunting task as i myself didn't really know what to do -- it's not like i've ever built a pit latrine before. on top of this were all these things i had planned to do and now this was a wrench in my plans. i hate wrenches in plans.

regardless, i decided to go with the flow and things turned out great. i didn't want to blow him off because he was the first person to finally start building his latrine when the grant money has been in for months and i've been pushing everybody to get started since the rains could come any day now. so i spent the day trotting back and forth between his compound and mine (which are across the village) and trying to get my other tasks done in between. i did a lot of walking. a few people who kept seeing me walk back and forth between compounds were somewhat bewildered with my back and forthedness and teased me a little but word got out that latrine building had commenced -- so hopefully others will begin soon.

the three masons were incredibly nice even though two of them (the apprentices) were teenagers. i'm usually wary of male teenagers as they're usually the jerks that can ruin my day but these two young men were hard working gentlemen who were very polite and i shared some laughs with. the master mason was great and totally understood the building plans and did a great job. i've recommended him to the others who have yet to build theirs.

1 down, 17 to go!

i'm so happy that people will finally be pooping and peeing in a latrine. until now the adults poop and pee out in the bush and the kids kind of just go wherever. perhaps it is very western/American minded of me but this practice really baffles and astounds me. the public health issues that come from this is innumerous and i personally, just think it is bad and gross. in actuality, most of the villagers do too but it is very expensive to build a latrine -- about 14,000CFA for every pit latrine (about $28USD). i'd be surprised if my family even sees 14,000CFA a month so i can understand why one would continue to do their excrement thing in the bush when 14,000CFA could go towards things (like seeds, horses, food) to which there is no alternative. the money i've been using to pay for the latrines comes from a grant that a few kaolack region volunteers wrote and with this grant money families pay 2,000CFA ($4USD) to get a latrine. at that price, people have been clamoring to get one of the 18 spots. i will definitely encourage the volunteer that follows me to get more grant money to do this.

pictures (and video!) to come soon.

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