There are plenty of mosquitoes and no air-conditioning. I'm feeling a little bit homesick for my mom's cooking, but I'm surrounded by a warm, fun-loving group of co-workers who have made me feel like part of the family from Day One.
While it may sound like I'm back at Pecometh, I'm actually 1,434 miles south of Rec Field, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I recently moved here to work with an organization called SOIL, and I've been surprised at how my summers at Pecometh prepared me for life in Haiti! In fact, the craziest thing about moving to Haiti is how decidedly… uncrazy it's felt being here.
Which is even more surprising to people when they hear what I'm doing in Haiti: working for a sanitation program. SOIL provides no-flush toilets in communities that don't have access to sewer/septic (which is currently about 90% of the country), then collects the waste for transformation into agriculture-grade compost. Most people hear this and nod politely, "Oh, how…. interesting." But to me it's more than interesting - it's a fascinating and even beautiful process that turns wastes into resources.
Obviously, providing safe sanitation that stops the spread of cholera and other deadly diseases is a good and important thing.
But to simultaneously tackle Haiti's ecological crisis (which is in turn related to both Haiti's lack of food security and vulnerability to extreme weather), all the while creating jobs (with benefits!) for 60 Haitians - well, I think it's downright genius.
So when a position opened up at their Port-au-Prince office, I jumped at the chance to join this brilliant and passionate team. My first month has been filled with laughter and adventure, and as I'd hoped, I'm learning a ton. Now if I can just figure out how to get rid of those mosquitoes….
Erica Lloyd, Camper 1988-1996; Staff 1997-2001 (Pictured above on the right with sister Meredith)