What is the mission of ANACAONA Community? What does the organization do?
There are actually three aspects of our mission:
- To promote women’s empowerment by bringing jobs to local Haitians, specifically women who are head of household.
- To improve water, sanitation, and hygiene in schools and the general community by providing soap, clean water, reusable menstrual products, and hygiene education.
- To reduce negative environmental impacts by using recyclable and washable materials and handmaking our items.
How long has the organization been in operation and what challenges existed that made you start this organization?
ANACAONA Community was founded in 2016 from a realization that many people in vulnerable communities in Haiti didn’t have access to water hygiene and sanitation. We observed that local hotels were throwing excess soap in the garbage, so by upcycling the leftover soap we could keep it from polluting the environment and redistribute it to schools while providing hygiene education training to the students through the teachers. After a few years, our learnings led us to expand our focus to menstrual health which is seen as taboo and is surrounded by misconceptions. We see how much it impacts the adolescent girls in the communities.
What type of project was completed in partnership with Good Deeds Day?
Together with Good Deeds Day, we decided to build a handwashing system in one of the schools that we have been working with for many years, Pasteur Dieusse Primary School in Fourgy – with around 300 children in attendance. We have been distributing soap and working with the teachers on basic hygiene education, however, there was no good water system so it was impacting the capability of children to safely wash their hands. The goal of this project was to bring more constant access to the school in order to improve their handwashing behavior.
What impact will this project have and on whom?
This project is already directly impacting 15 teachers and 300 students who attend the school daily. It is ensuring better hygiene for over 300 people and equally important, the positive hygiene behavior that they are learning at school is being taken home and taught to their families, indirectly benefiting hundreds of households.
Tell us a bit about the community where the handwashing station was installed and why it was important to do the project there.
Fourgy, where the school is located, is a sub-neighbor in the extremely impoverished area of Haiti called Cité Soleil. With a lack of access to the most basic services, like sanitation services, this community typically has high rates of diarrheal diseases and waterborne illnesses. With handwashing being one of the easiest ways to stop the spread of disease, it is very important to provide access to soap, running water, and education for children who are among the most vulnerable. Again, the benefits of this project go beyond the handwashing station itself to the education that is taken from the school back to the families and into the community.
How did you decide to do the project at this school?
The school has been a partner school of ours for over 2 years now, so we knew there was a great need, and they have been asking for the handwashing station for a long time. Of course, we checked with the school to make sure they still wanted the station and that we agreed on the project.
How does this project with Good Deeds Day align with your mission or move you closer to your organization’s goals related to this project?
This project with Good Deeds Day aligns 100% with our mission which is to bring better awareness but when we can infrastructure linked to water, hygiene, and sanitation to schools and communities we work in. Due to the ongoing tension in the community, we have had to postpone our community event, however, in the future, we will host an activity with the community and the school where people will come to sing songs, play games, and refresh people on the best practices for handwashing.
How do you feel about the mission of Good Deeds Day and your work together?
I was very happy to partner with Good Deeds Day. We are called ANACAONA Community because we believe in the power of people working together, getting together – there is a saying in Creole “Men anpil, chay pa lou” which means if you put several hands together what you’re carrying becomes lighter. We are all about community organizing- going out into the community to work with them. Good Deeds Day working with local organizations means that money, time, and resources are not just going to big organizations but to smaller grassroots organizations that are every day in the field in some of the most remote and difficult areas. That is very valuable. Besides managing the general partnership with the Good Deeds Day’s country officer, everything else was handled entirely by the local team, so 100% local empowerment. All of these values of Good Deeds Day align totally with our values, so we are so excited to have done this project together.