When I first came to Fiji and started learning more about GVI and the work they were doing in the Yasawas it was clear that the composting toilets were a big deal. They had been planned and worked on for months and I was told that I would be lucky enough to finish them off. I assumed, as most would, that this would be a relatively straight forward task which would take a coupe of days at most- I was wrong. When I first saw the composting toilets from the outside, it seemed like they were done. It was clear that they had been freshly painted and looked quite snazzy from the outside. Once I got down to the nitty-gritty details however I realised there was still a lot of work to be done. With this knowledge our construction team, armed with a half decent PDF plan, got to work.
Though none of us had ever built a composting toilet before we were full of ideas on how we could build the best one for the children at Ratu Meli Memorial School. Our days often started with a plan A and quickly moved down the alphabet until we hit a plan that was sufficient for this particular toilet. It was a lot of work to finish the toilet and I think everyone would agree that the whole process was a love-hate relationship. There were some who doubted how the toilet would work, others who believed in it from the beginning, and still more who changed their minds daily on the future and success of the toilets.
On the final morning of construction, however, it was worth every emotion. I can honestly say I have never seen a group of people so excited about a toilet. All the nails were in place, the buckets inserted, and the natural composting mechanisms of coconut husks, soil, and grass aligned. It was a relief to be finally finished, but also a question of what was to come next. Questions filled our heads – would the children use them? Was our hard work worth it? Would the toilets prove to be an adequate composting mechanism? Throughout the following week, it was clear that all these questions were for nothing. The composting toilet classes that the education volunteers had been teaching were obviously working and everything about the toilets was in good working order. The children seem excited to use them and have so far put them to good use. Fortunately they are kept clean and also do not smell. Time will tell how useful the compost will be to the school but with new vegetable patches being dug every week it can only be assumed that it will be of great use.
A recent Expedition volunteer, Allie Heck, gave class 8 the task of writing a short article on the new composting toilets, below is what they wrote…
“Even though Fiji is lush and green, there is not a lot of water available. GVI made the compost toilet for the children of Ratu Meli Memorial School. Compost toilets save a lot of water, which is important because we are going into draught season. A compost toilet is clean because it contains our waster and turns it into fertilizer. We will put this fertilizer in the garden that we just made. It helps the food to grow. We get vegetables, fruit and other fresh food from the garden. This food will make us strong and healthy. We want to thank GVI members for building our compost toilet. We will keep the toilet clean so that we can use it for many years. Thank you GVI!”