It is the time most of us wait for. When we can shed our winter layers and enjoy the warmth of the sun after what seemed like a cold and long winter here in Canada.
I just returned from Belize and I left Joanne still putting the pieces of the puzzle together for the success of the San Mateo Project, she is sadly leaving on the 9:00am Tropic Air flight to Belize City. I cannot wait to hear what she was able to accomplish on her last few days there!
Although the first build didn’t happen, we were able to spend a tremendous amount of time working with the community and collecting information that was necessary. My research has discovered that 90% of sanitation projects fail if we avoid the planning and information gathering step of the project.
Building stronger relationships with the people is as valuable as installing the first system. This past week we were able to look at every home in the area, document what we found and make sure everybody was counted and considered for a system. I am so grateful we were able to spend a great deal of time with the people living in San Mateo, answering questions and sharing information.
Part of the information that needed was to map out the area. I got a realtors map with all the plots marked out and learned that one of our volunteers was a cartographer at one point in his life. This allowed us to do a walk through of the neighborhood and mark valuable information on the map. We were looking for things like if lot was filled, house height, number of dwellings on the lot, cistern, town water, electricity. This will all factor into where the first build will go because we need to find the areas with the highest probability of success for the first couple of builds. Later in the week Kim, for the San Mateo Empowerment Project was able to also send us an additional, more detailed map.
I was also able to get the attention of a possible investor for the project. He will visit the first installation and if he likes what he sees, he will help with the funding of the project! This is great news for us!
Joanne and I were able to connect with people and businesses that are willing to donate gift-in-kind for a summer camp we are hoping to pull together for the youth of San Mateo. This camp will be in partnership with Caribbean SEA Student Education Alliance and Lee’s Reef Project. Both of these organization run school programs in St. Lucia and Netherlands Antilles with a focus on coral reef preservation. We are hoping with the knowledge we share with these students, we will be able to create strong leaders in their community that advocate for a healthier and safer environment. We are planning to involve the community through street theatre and tee-shirts done by the kids!
We hope you will all get involved in what ever way you can to help support Direct Abundance see these important projects through!
Heather and Joanne
Big shout out to Consolidated water for donating the first Barrel [we still need one more for first build] Thanks also goes out to Pedro’s Hotel for being willing to support this important cause and offering up a barrel – unfortunately there was a crack in it.