Another week of training DONE. This week went really well and our students were all great. I realized this week how much our training has changed. It’s gotten so much better.
Normally we spend from 7 am – noon doing theory, with a break for breakfast and a break for brain rest in there. The first couple days are a lot of details about water contamination and treatment, introducing the filters and talking about household water treatment. One of the things that we added was a Project Planning and Implementation section because we were finding that our students could build filters, but they couldn’t start and run the project.
I get to teach the Project Planning section. I actually really like doing it because of how our students respond to it. The school system in Haiti is based on rote and memorization so people, if they’ve been able to go to school, don’t know what it is to participate, to problem solve, to be creative in a class type setting. We do group work where each organization represented works at the beginning stages of planning their project – things like drawing a picture of what they want their work site to be, or planning a budget. I love doing the drawing exercises because it’s like watching elementary kids being let loose with a paint box – you mean I get to DRAW??? I notice that at this point in the week our students sort of become alive. They joke around more. Their personalities come out more. It’s so fun. I love that we get to teach them something valuable and that we’ve found creative ways to do that.
This week I was so proud of our staff too. Seriously, we are so blessed. Over the last two years we’ve been trying to get them more involved in the trainings rather than it just being Chris and I. Jean teaches our practical sections in the afternoon with the help of our other workers. I love going out into the work yard and seeing them walking the students through the stages of building and installing the filters. It’s fun because I see their confidence and pride coming out because they get to be the ones with the know how in those moments. We’ve also started having Julie teach our education section. It just made sense since she does that every day. She walks our students through using the teaching posters that we have and some of the basics that they need to teach filter recipients. I was really impressed with how Julie took charge of the class and that Jean helped her out by testing the students with hard to answer questions. It was so great to see them do this on their own without looking to us for direction. I love how they’ve grown more confident in their skills and I’m grateful that we can provide them with opportunities to do that.
Yonese is in charge of feeding everyone. When I got here class menus were non-existent. Chris would just give the ladies money and send them to the market. Now Yonese and I do a meal plan and she buys accordingly. We’ve been working on quantities and not preparing more food than we can eat in a day. Before it was a fight to have the food prepared for a specific time so we could all stay on schedule. Schedules are something that most people don’t understand here. Now I don’t feel like I have to be sneaking out of class to check on the meals, but rather I just ask if things are ready and they always are. It’s so great.
We used to stress out about the classes because we had no idea what to expect. We work more on the front end of things now with the people that are sending us students to make sure that they understand the seriousness of starting a filter project and what’s involved in getting one up and running. Many people thing training is the first step, but it actually falls somewhere in the middle of the process. The result of working with these people has been that the students we get now understand why they’re being sent to us and they’re investing more of themselves into the process rather than showing up not fully understanding, and in some cases, not even caring why they’re there. It’s really encouraging.
We’re seeing more and more successful projects getting started and it’s really exciting for us. The filters are such a great technology for Haiti. They help people and are cost effective. They’re simple and don’t need any extra bits and pieces. People can understand how to use them easily. Nothing to break and no electricity. Running a local project means use of local materials and that feeds the local economy. It means employment for people and not relying on something that is brought in from the outside.
We already have a wait list for training early in the new year. People are catching on to the idea and they’re wanting to make it work as a solution for Haiti. I’m so excited that we get to be a part of that.