Building Bathrooms Is a Dirty Job, but It's Worth It to Help the Kids

12/12/14

When Neil Slate stops, leaning on his shovel to catch his breath, Melida Joseph quickly brings him a plastic chair to rest in. Neil and his Venture Team are building Melida’s family’s first latrine. Here in the batey of Los Robles—an old Haitian migrant worker shantytown in the Dominican Republic—many families still live without basic resources like toilets.

 
  Melida and her husband couldn’t find words to express their gratitude for Neil’s team and the latrine they built.
 
Melida has been outside all day watching the progress, and she can’t stop smiling. Until now, the family used the nearby sugarcane field for their bathroom. Melida’s son is enrolled in COTN’s child sponsorship program, and her family is receiving this latrine based on their need—seven people living in one home with no access to a toilet.
 
           Melida and her family walked into this field beside their home any time they needed to use a bathroom.
 
This is the second latrine Neil has built during this trip. With the help of local men and translators, the team starts by digging a nine-foot-deep hole in the earth with nothing more than a shovel. 
 
“Latrines are one of the building blocks to caring for a child’s needs,” Neil says. He and the team dig this nine-foot-deep hole with nothing more than a shovel.
 
Then they prep the floor of the latrine by laying recycled timbers and tin across the opening and covering it with cement. The walls, door, and roof are built around the floor, with brand new tin. 
 
 
 
When the team is finished, the family is thrilled. They take a picture together in front of the latrine to commemorate this special moment. It’s a sturdy, economical structure and it will make a big impact on the family’s daily health and sanitation needs.
 
                     Neil, far right, poses with the family and a few of the men who helped build this latrine.
 
“Latrines are one of the building blocks to caring for a child’s needs,” Neil says. “Caring for your children means better students, means more education, more capable people, and it means ending the cycle of poverty.
 
“I don’t have any hesitation about digging a dozen more,” Neil adds. He enjoyed serving the children through this construction project. The Dominican Republic has a special place in his heart. He and his wife sponsor two girls through COTN and he took time out during his trip to meet the girls and their family. Neil has seen firsthand how sponsorship gives children a chance at a life their parents never had. 
 
“The kids are the number one priority,” he says. “Keep sponsoring the kids.”