Latest Project Updates

Dear Friends,

I know that I have been very quiet, but I do have an excuse! I went home for vacation for a month. I was my sister’s Maid of Honor for her wedding on July 24, 2004. Check out kronman.com for pictures. The whole wedding was really beautiful!

Now that I am back here in Jamaica, things are going fine. I am enjoying my time more than I did before. I am taking things less seriously, and having a good time.

As far as my projects are going, things are moving along smoothly, despite the fact that I was gone for a month. The fishing beach project is progressing. Some key agencies, Ministry of Health (thats my boss), and I met on the beach last week to decide where the new “refuse bay” and toilet facilities would go. That meeting went well and everyone liked a kind of crazy idea that I had. That idea was to use already existing stalls (that currently hold boat engines) into the pits for the toilets. This will be a lot less work and we will have a lot more toilets in the end. It will also be one of the most creative looking restrooms I’ve ever seen. People will wash their hands on the floor level, but to use a toilet, one will climb about three stairs (or up a ramp) to a three feet high platform where some wh. ch. accessible stalls will be. The rest will be up another six or seven steps. The guy organizing this is hoping to tile all the walls and flooring, so it should be (hopefully) really nice.

On a different project, in the end of April, my boss and I both attended a week-long Peace Corps training conference. At that time, we both were inspired to try to build a very special kind of toilet as a model for Old Harbour Bay. Before I left for vacation, we wrote letters seeking funding, and after I got back, it was just coming through. The labour costs were looking like they would be a lot, and the new set of Peace Corps Trainees were in the area, so I had the brilliant idea to use them as the labour for the project. I knew that this would be perfect because putting a VIDP together as a trainee is a great project. Anyway, I saw that the timing was perfect for everyone involved. The check was delivered to my house on Thursday, August 5th. That day, I went shopping and bought all of the necessary items to have a work day on Saturday, August 7th, to pour the foundation. This was also useful because Friday was a Jamaican holiday and all the stores would be closed.

Well, last Saturday’s work day turned out really well. We have a good mason and helper, the Peace Corps Trainees are all very helpful, willing and hard workers, and the lunch and cold water provided by the owner was very nice!

Our next work day is Saturday coming, August 14th, where we will lay the blocks and dress them up. (Picture two cubes, side by side with trap doors to clean the pits. Actually, check out the photo gallery for a better idea of what these special toilets look like.)

Some time later, We will put on the pre-prepared slabs and risers, and make the house around it. These toilets are called Ventilated Improved Double Pit Latrines (VIDP). They are useful when the water table is very, very high and a regular pit latrine doesn’t work because it would contaminate the water systems (both the ocean and aquifers).

So that is what I am up to these days. I love you all and take care! I would really love to hear from anyone of you!

Rachel

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