What is the mission of ANACAONA Community? What does this organization do?
These are the three pillars of our mission:
1. Promote the empowerment of women by giving work to locals, especially women heads of household.
2. Improve hygiene, sanitation and access to water in schools in particular and throughout the community in general by providing soap, clean water, reusable menstrual products and educating about hygiene and handwashing.
3. Reduce the negative environmental impact by using recyclable and washable materials, as well as the craftsmanship of the products.
How long has this organization been operating and what challenges exist that led you to create it?
ANACAONA Community was founded in 2015 due to the fact that many citizens of vulnerable communities in Haiti do not have access to water, hygiene and sanitation.
We found out that hotels were throwing away their excess soap and we saw a great opportunity in this: if we recycled excess soap we can prevent them from contaminating the environment and redistribute it to schools while training students in hygiene and sanitation.
After working for several years, we understood that it was important to also focus on menstrual health, which even today is a taboo subject full of misconceptions that negatively impact adolescent girls in the communities.
What was the project in partnership with Good Deeds Day?
Along with Good Deeds Day, we decided to build a handwashing system in one of the schools we have been working with for many years now: Pasteur Dieusse Primary School in Fourgy with 300 students.
We distributed soaps and worked alongside teachers on basic hygiene education, however, there was no proper sanitation system in place and this made proper handwashing impossible.
The challenge of this project was to achieve consistent access to the school so we could improve student handwashing behavior.
What positive effects did this project have and on whom?
This project has already had an impact on the 15 teachers and 300 students who study every day at the school. They bring better hygiene to more than 300 people and, more importantly, the positive hygiene behavior they learned at school is taken home, where they teach their families the importance of handwashing and indirectly benefit thousands of households.
Tell us more about the community where the handwashing station was installed and why it was important to do it there.
Fourgy, where the school is located, is a neighborhood in extreme poverty, in Cité Soleil with very little access to basic services such as sanitation, this community often has high rates of diarrhea and other diseases transmitted by non-potable water.
Hand washing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stop the transmission and contagion of these diseases, so it is essential to provide them with soap, and water and educate students, who are the most susceptible population to suffer from these pathologies. Once again, the benefits of this project go beyond the handwashing station itself as what is learned is passed on to homes and the community at large.
How did you decide to carry out the project in this school?
The alliance and work with this school has been going on for more than two years, so we knew their needs, and they have been requesting a handwashing station for a long time. Of course we checked with the school if they still need the handwashing station and agreed to do this project.
How does this Good Deeds Day project align with your mission or bring you closer to your organization’s goals?
This project, in collaboration with Good Deeds Day, is 100% aligned with our mission, which is to raise awareness, but when we also manage to create infrastructure linked to water, hygiene, and sanitation in the schools and communities where we we work. It means an even greater achievement that creates more positive impact.
What do you think of Good Deeds Day collaboration with Anacaona Community?
I am very happy with the collaboration we made with Good Deeds Day. We are called ANACAONA Community because we believe in the power of people working together, coming closer. There is a saying in Creole “Men anpil, chay pa lou” which means that if you join hands, whatever you are going to carry will be easier.
We are dedicated to the community organization, we go out into the community to work with them. The fact that Good Deeds Day works with local organizations means that money, time and resources not only go to large organizations but are also channeled to smaller organizations that are out in the field every day in remote areas, and difficult to access and this is very valuable.
Outside of managing the project with the local Good Deeds Day coordinator, everything else was in charge of the local team, so the empowerment of the people in the community was 100%. The values of Good Deeds Day are fully aligned with our values, so we are very happy to have carried out this project together.
To learn more about the ANACAONA Community and their work, follow them on Facebook.