Thursday, September 4, 2008

Gifts Given, Gifts Recieved (Part 2 - A Surprise Response)

Part of Greg's work in Lechería was building pit latrines. Those who requested a latrine had to put down a deposit of 100 pesos (about 3 U.S. dollars), dig a 4' x 4' hole at least 10 feet deep, and line the hole with old tires or 55 gallon drums.

We hired local masons, and usually with the help of the new owner, they layed rebar, a 6' x 6' cement base, and cement block walls.

Once the cement had dried, tin roofs and doors were attached. Greg was often not alone in doing this because we had many visiting friends and church groups from the States to help througout the year.

We managed to complete 54 additional latrines this year, but we soon found that one thing was lacking that would enhance the "usability" of latrines. The people normally provided their own seat, usually a 5-gallon paint bucket with a hole cut into the bottom that was placed over the hole left in the cement floor. Greg began to hear from some latrine owners that it would be nice to have a more comfortable seat, so he set out to design something inexpensive but suitable. 

Victor, the local maintenance man, new of someone that could make a seat "mold" out of metal, so we gave him a design and, "voila!", we had mold for making a cement seat.

Greg's next thought was, "Why not add a little 'class' by topping each seat with a plastic ring and lid?" So, we did, and the response was amazing! Everyone who owned a latrine, old or new, began asking for the new "basinetas".   By the time we left, 60 latrines had been outfitted with seats, and 30 more were in the queue.

It was an intersting lesson of how a small but extra touch can sometimes be such a gift to someone.