El Salvador weeks 5 and 6

The last two weeks here in El Salvador have been hectic. Week 5 I finished up the interviews in the community with the DVUD toilets. The acceptance of these toilets were greater than with the solar toilets, It also appeared that they had a better understanding of the use and maintenance of these toilets. About half of the households are using the compost for fertilizer for crops, which I was quite interested in. However, I later found out that a microbiological study was not completed in that community and storage times may not be adequate to kill of harmful pathogens. I was handed some fruit grown on a tree in which compost was used and to my fear, I was asked to taste it on the spot. It tasted okay but all I could think of was it being treated without a microbiological study being conducted. It just goes to show you what the perception of this spoiled American is towards using excreta as fertilizer. Perhaps I would have been more open to it if I had not been rushed to the emergency room with severe abdominal pain that turned out to be something I ate. And no they did not accept my insurance card, Had to pay them and hopefully I will get reimbursed! Then the rush was on to compile data in an excel spreadsheet and convert it to SPSS software to be analyzed. Remind me never to get a new software package on the week an assignment is due. It was cumbersome but with perseverance I was able to complete my final project.
Like Valerie, I am coming away with more knowledge than the sanitation systems that I came to learn about. I learned that poverty may seem to be detrimental to those that have plenty, but I saw laughing children and adults that seemed well adjusted to their living arrangements. I learned that to help people you must first involve them in decision making and that the goal is to teach them to be self sufficient, even when it comes to sanitation.
So tomorrow I will be traveling all day, leaving this beautiful country to go home to my family. It has been an adventure and if the opportunity arises for another trip here, I would take it in a heartbeat.

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