Home » Something to think about » How to change a toilet in Haiti

How to change a toilet in Haiti

I woke up this morning with hopes of finishing the new toilet installs in the guest quarters of the house-  There are three toilets-  all of them are cemented to the floor, the are all roughed in too close to the walls- and none of them have a toilet flange- so for all of the non-plumbers out there, a toilet cannot be installed without a flange….or so I was told.  In Haiti the toilet is casually placed over a hole in the floor and cement is added to prevent leaking and movement-  This idea is quick, easy, and very affordable until the next poor sucker has to replace the toilet.  What should have only required an pair of adjustable pliers to remove the toilets became – safety glasses, ear protection, concrete chisels, hammers, electric grinders, and some heavy dub step music to encourage momentum and increase productivity.  I looked in every hardware store and Mom & Pop Plumbing Shop in Gonaives to find toilet flanges so I could properly install the toilets- alas, there were none.  I decided to tag along on the 3 hour ride back to Port Au Prince to drop off my father in law at the airport and check out a store called Ecko Depot which comically has the same logo and colours as Home Depot- so I felt like I was back in Canada for a brief moment until I passed two guards with shotguns in the entrance of the store and was quickly reminded that I was in Haiti  – My plumbing material hunt was a huge success – I bought every toilet flange that they had along with a box full of must-haves for my next few months here-

taken by kathy brooks

taken by kathy brooks

I have been learning to get used to the new pace here-  I have been told  “If you think it will take a day, it will take a week.  If you think it will take a week, than it will take a month”  A lot of this has to do (I think) with a lack of material and in a big way its part of the lifestyle here.  I found out quickly that you can’t come here and expect the pace here in Haiti to match the pace we know back at home.  If you ignore the pace here and continue in your other mindset you will end up offending everyone around you and ruining relationships, which is ultimately the reason that we are here- to build relationships as brothers and sisters, black or white- and to do some plumbing while I’m at it.

We met with the director of a local hospital in Gonaives this week, the members of Pinegrove Baptist Church will remember this hospital from our dutch butter cake with a weird name fundraiser.  This hospital was a warehouse that was retrofitted a few years ago.  We asked the director if he would allow us to install sinks in every room that needed one.  These are rooms from surgery to recovery and everything in between.  This project would take a few weeks to complete in Canada- so I will roughly expect it to be completed in May.

On another note!  We got a dresser today!   We decided to ask a local carpenter from Jubilee to make a dresser for us a week ago.  There are dozens of places to get a dresser in the market but a friend of ours had a desk made by Jean Philipe so we thought we would also.  It was incredible to meet with him in his small workshop that has pieces of tin for walls and a roof but greets you with the welcoming aroma of fresh wood shavings from a hand plainer.  There is no electricity there so the entire dresser was custom hand built.  Jean Philippe has taken on two young apprentices from the community to teach them his skills to the next generation.  Our dresser received one last coat of varnish today at our house in an enclosed area to prevent dust from ruining the finish.  I will take another picture of the finished product when it is in our room!



4 thoughts on “How to change a toilet in Haiti

  1. Wow, it’s great to read about your days in Haiti. It seems so remote to me but I know the differences must be so stark to you two. Love Aunt Ellen.

  2. Awesome Blog Phil, belated thanks for the shout out for our vote from Haiti, we came in 2nd. Your post so reminded me of our time in the DR, shotguns at the door of any “Gringo” type store, and the concept of time, in the DR it was tiempo Dominicana or Dominican time and the term manana which literal means tomorrow but in actuality meant at some time when I feel like it in the future. Enjoy your time being the ‘hands of God’ Our year in the DR went by so fast! Keep up the posts

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