The 900 Project Mission Statement:
The 900 Project is a group of young adults who strive to build 900 latrines in a Haitian village.
With these latrines, every family in this village of Tilory will have dignified, sanitary conditions to curb child death and disease. Currently in this village only one in ten of the 1,000 families have latrines, this leaves the 900.
What is the goal of the project?
Our goal was to raise the money necessary to provide the proper latrines needed in Tilory, Haiti.
Our financial goal is roughly $365 per latrine for a total of $330,000. All proceeds were used in the construction of the latrines.
How did Project 900 start?
The 900 Project was started when a team from Black Rock Church went on a mission’s trip to the Dominican Republic in June 2012. This group of was comprised of a Youth Pastor, Adult Fusion leaders as well as college and high school students.
The group travelled down to the DR with the intention of running a VBS program for the children, take some of the teenagers on a youth retreat, and to conduct various church services and seminars for the people of the town.
One day our group got into our bus and we set out to Tilory, Haiti. What we saw with our own eyes went beyond words in expressing how we felt.
This exact trip was made one year earlier to Tilory, and forever changed our Youth Pastor, Jeremy Taylor. He told us to just walk around the village and let our heart be open to break for the people living there. Just as predicted pulling up to the village and walking out of the bus was heart breaking. We saw poverty first hand. As we walked around the village to see the hospital, church and school buildings we walked slowly and quietly. We were all overwhelmed with this village. We saw a few boys following us in girls pajama tops, while other boys were walking around without any shorts at all. As we walked up along the road we couldn’t help but look down at our feet. All of us were walking around in sneakers while the boys and children following us were walking around barefoot. We were walking on a dirt path with sharp rocks and glass but it didn’t even phase the children following us. Many of us looked into their eyes and reached out and grabbed their hands. Just as American children want to be loved so did these kids. The saying goes, you don’t know how someone feels until you spend a day in their shoes, but what happens when they don’t have any shoes?
We were able to meet with and talk to the pastor of the local church in Tilory.
We asked him what is the village’s biggest need?
He replied that they have so many needs that it’s hard to just pick one. The village does not have running water for bathing or drinking, they don’t have much medical care, and their school is run down and overcrowded. The pastor then stated that there are roughly 1,000 families in this village and only 100 of them have a working latrine.
Wow. Immediately our group could feel the tug on our hearts. What happens to the other 900 families without a latrine?
The pastor responded that they just go to the bathroom wherever they find space. 900 families do not have a bathroom: that would never happen in America. Many of us have never even thought about going one day without a bathroom. This statistic and the images of Tilory were engrained in everyone’s minds for the next few days.
Statistics always sound nice when you hear them or see a commercial on TV. But we have all come to realize that when you see those numbers in person that it tugs at your heart. Nine out of ten families in Tilory do not have any facility to use the bathroom, and we saw it first hand. It’s easy to hear a statistic and forget about it, but it isn’t easy when you look that statistic in the face. It’s life changing when you look into their eyes of despair and hopelessness. Tilory does not have a voice. They do not have a way out of their village. Many of them were born into poverty. We, in Fairfield County, are not poor. We are rich beyond belief and after seeing Tilory, will not close our eyes to poverty anymore. We have been called by God to help the poor.
Before the trip, we all read the book Radical by David Platt. The book talks about living a radical life for God, and going against what the American dream tells us we should do. As the team thought about what we experienced in Tilory, God was telling us all that we needed to do something radical for the people there.
A few days after our visit, we were all loaded on the bus to visit one of our sponsored children in the DR. All of a sudden, one team member mentioned Tilory, and how we could help with the issue of the 900 latrines. Immediately, people started throwing out ideas, writing down everything that was said and what we could do.
The passion for the Project was overflowing in all of us. We had the bus turn around and head back to Haiti – and so began the birth of The 900 Project.
Why are latrines so important?
The latrines will provide sanitary place for the people of Tilory to go to the bathroom. Currently, many of the people will just use the bathroom wherever they can find an open spot. This creates very unsanitary conditions that increase the risk and spread of disease. When it rains in the village, much of the human waste is washed around the streets and into the local drinking water. This has created serious health issues for many of the people, and has been responsible for taking the lives of some, especially those most at risk like the children.
The latrines will also provide a safe place to use the bathroom. When the sun goes down in the town, there are no lights around to light up the streets. This creates very dangerous conditions for women to be out walking the streets. When a woman needs to use the bathroom at night but has no latrine to use, she will be left at her most vulnerable out in the open or behind a bush. With each family having their own latrine, they won’t have to travel anywhere to use the bathroom and will have a safe place to be rather than be exposed to the dangers of the night.