Monika Roy

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Monika Roy

I'm now working here in Haiti with an organization that I started volunteering with called SOIL - Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods ( SOIL works to empower the community on dealing with sanitation issues from a holistic perspective. Traditional sanitation systems are not only scarce, but a challenge here as water and piping infrastructure barely exist. We have dry toilets set up in various communities and camps from the earthquake, and collect the toilet material to process at a composting site. The diverted urine is diluted and used to fertilize gardens and the finished compost is sold and given back to the people. Everyone is extraordinarily nice and I'm learning Creole fast - there are only 5 of us international staff and the rest of the 35 or so staff are all Haitian. I work in admin support, program support, and conduct agricultural experiments. Since I'm not traveling anymore, but now living here, the blog posts will be infrequent!

Hello all! Well some of you are aware of this news, but I have accepted a position here with SOIL, the organization I came down to volunteer with. Things are exciting around here: we're building a new composting site, we've got goats at the farm, and the mangoes are now in season (avocados are next)!! I'll probably be down here for the next year or so, so if you're down in the Caribbean area, stop over and say hi - or we can meet in the D.R. - I'd love to go back and visit.... The slacklining is going well, and my 2 good friends here and I have been invited to be in a big showcase! I've never performed on a slackline before and so we're now working on a routine, and I'm looking for ... read more
Slacklining fun
One of my students
One of our composting sites

Hello all! It's been a few weeks and a busy time in the office, but I snuck out for 4 days to go to the D.R. for their 2nd Intl. Bachata Festival the weekend before last. After an 8 hour busride I was in Santo Domingo for an incredible first trip to other country that shares this island. Not only was the contrast in city infrastructure striking between Haiti and the D.R., but even on the busride over there was a notable difference in the agriculture: organized fields, tools, tractors, irrigation systems for rice fields, etc. (another convo about international investment and country histories would be great to have here, but I can't do it justice now...). Anyways... It was the first time I've ever paid for a hotel in my adult life (granted I shared ... read more
Dancing dancing dancing
Workshop time
Hotel! Buffet! Hot water!

Central America Caribbean » Haiti » Labadee March 8th 2012

Well this was the first weekend I didn't do any work at all! And much needed too because I've been here in Haiti for a month and haven't yet gone to the beach...poppycock. And being up here in Cap Haitian, the beach is much more accessible than in Port au Prince. I hopped on a moto and took a short ride over the hill, and voila! Paradise lays before me. I walked through the entrance of a hotel to the beach to plop myself down and was promptly informed I had to pay U.S. $5. Hello?! I'm cheap. So I walked down the beach to go hang with the local haitians, and as it so happened quite a large group of Chileans. They give me bread, cheese, beer, and chocolate - this sounds like a waaaaay ... read more
Chillin with the Chileans
And I brought the slackline!
Come one come all!

Central America Caribbean » Haiti » Labadee March 3rd 2012

Well I'm here in Okap (Cap Haitian) for about 2 weeks, sent up from Port au Prince to help with the SOIL office finances and operations. Ashley, the new program manager, was supposed to come at least a week ago but has fallen ill and doesn't know when she'll be able to make it down from the U.S. Hence, I'm here and happy to change scenery for a little bit! I'm living on the roof of the office in a big room with a huge rooftop garden. There's a great view of the bay and the surrounding mountains. Okap is the 3rd largest city in Haiti, but very very different than Port au Prince. For one, it wasn't impacted by the earthquake so the infrastructure is intact and there are 4 story buildings here, paved streets, ... read more
I'm living on the roof
The view towards the mountains
Limonad farm composting site

Central America Caribbean » Haiti » Port-au-Prince February 23rd 2012

Alo Kanaval!! Well, the festivities started close to home - in fact, at the soccer field next door where Konbit Mizik was putting on an evening show. Konbit Mizik is an organization making available recording and sound equipment to music groups and individuals so I got to see a variety of haitians performing mostly hip hop, rap, and reggae. My favorite was watching an 8 year old tear it up on the mic. So 2 friends Nick and Vincent are pioneering the first LGBT cultural center and cafe in homophobic Haiti, which is rad! You can view their project (called Kouraj) at url= They threw their kickoff party last week and it was the funnest time I had dancing so far in Haiti, shaking my boot... read more
LGBT kanaval party!
Mountains beyond mountains
Annale a kanaval!

Central America Caribbean » Haiti » Port-au-Prince February 16th 2012

Bonjou tout moun (Good morning everyone), Well this last week was filled with visits to other projects around town - it was great to see what else is going on out there. So here's a recap (and the pictures are in order): Sineyas After-School and Garden Program: This is a project of Give Love (SOIL's sister humanure org.). GL built several toilets for little kids to go along with the after-school program after the earthquake. The seats are small and not UD (urine-diversion) because the anatomy of kids doesn't allow for separation. So everything (urine and feces) gets composted along with food scraps from the kitchen, and they're making some beautiful compost. These are the most thriving gardens I've seen yet in Haiti - and Sineyas is right smack in the middle of one of the ... read more
Sineyas After-School Program
From the plants view
Cabbage in Reused Tires

Central America Caribbean » Haiti » Port-au-Prince February 13th 2012

It's dusty. It's hot. There are tents and quansets and "theme camps" set up by NGO's everywhere. Law/military presence is real. There are a lot of people and not many resources....sounds like the start of a description of Burning Man, no? Yeah, except that there are TOO many people, there is trash EVERYWHERE, a lot of projects have gone wrong or weren't thought through all the way, malnourishment is evident. Doesn't sounds like radical self-reliance to me. In fact, Haitians have had little-to-no choice in the way they sustain their economy. Already with a history of being colonized, exploited, and having to pay reparations to the country (France) that enslaved them in order to be free (ironic, huh?), the earthquake 2 years ago did nothing to help the situation; and the following response did/is not addressing ... read more
Tent City
Earthquake Damage
Composting Port-O-Potty Action

After getting hasseled at LAX to buy a return ticket, not making it thought security twice because I forgot to check the kitchen knives in my bag, freezing still 5 minutes for an airport red alert, barely making my flight, cursing myself for choosing the middle seat in the only row that doesn't recline (bc it's in front of the exit row) for the overnighter, almost not making it through customs in Haiti because I forgot to write the SOIL address down (but fortunately had made friends with my neighbor on the plane who argued in Creole for me).... I'm here!! It's day 4 now and I'm settling into this new space, language, culture, organization. I've already visited the 2 main composting sites and have seen some of the dry toilets set up in communities. We're ... read more
Moving drums
Beautiful Dry Twalet

North America » Mexico » Quintana Roo » Puerto Morelos April 15th 2010

I've just spent almost the last month in a town called Puerto Morelos right south of Cancun, north of Playa del Carmen (which happen to be the 2 fastest growing cities in the world). Puerto Morelos is the oldest town on the shore and still retains its small-town vibe. I WWOOFed on a farm in the Zona Urbana which is actually the opposite of what it sounds, in the rural jungle/bush-mosquito-ridden area of town. The community is great with lots of kids and more hippies. I spent my time working in the gardens, helping to build a wood-fired brick oven, taking care of the animals, and going to the beach a few times a week - also to get fish tacos and a paleta while in town :) The highlights: We had a chocolate factory going, ... read more
Renato (the owner) is a sculptor
The cenote
Mosquito magnet me

Well well, the tickets were bought and the plans were made - I met my 2 good friends Rosa and Tin on their coordinated time off from work and school to hang out in Mexico! It was nice to see some familiar faces and we spent lots of time catching up over, what else, FOOD. Because if you know me, you search for the good sustenance. And so, our journey began in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas after more than 12 hour bus journeys on all of our parts (them from Cancun and me from Oaxaca). We spent 2 days exploring that fabulous town, and really San Cris. has some of the best food in Mexico that I've had. It was the first time really on this trip that I ate out in restaurants, but ... read more
The home of good coffee and hot chocolate
La bandera
It was pi day so how could we not eat some pie?

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