This year, we are building latrines in our Dominican communities. Volunteers built two families their latrines in the sector of Gajo Largo earlier this year. Timoteo Ramirez del Carmen, 49, and his family are just one of many families in the sector of Gajo Largo that were using the outdoors near their house as a bathroom because they didn’t have a latrine.
Timoteo works hard to support his family and keep his children in school. His wife and five children, who range in age from one to sixteen years old, survive on his meager earnings as a farmer. Timoteo’s income growing pigeon peas barely covers the costs of living for his family.
The majority of families in Gajo Largo are subsistence farmers and struggle to cover their day-to-day costs. Most are unable to save and do not have the resources to improve their housing or personal sanitation situation. In Gajo Largo, most families do not have a latrine and must either use the bathroom outside or use a neighbor’s latrine, which contributes to the spread of disease.
Access to a proper latrine is essential for the public health of a community and it provides dignity for a family to have a proper bathroom. The ability to close and lock a door while using the restroom increases the sense of safety and privacy among family and community members, especially women and girls who are more vulnerable when using the bathroom outside.
Timoteo has been trying to build a latrine for his family for many years. He began the process by digging the hole for the latrine but could not continue the work. When there was any extra income, paying off debts and buying other necessities for his family took precedent over finishing the latrine.
After Timoteo and his family received a new Bridges latrine in February he said, “I am so happy to have a solution to this problem for my family. My whole community is affected by a lack of latrines; we are all grateful to Bridges for their support.”