Since November, Orgaizasyon Zanmi Sasye has been rehabilitating nearly 7 kilometers of roads leading in and out of Sassier. Funded by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the project has provided work for more than 1000 Sassier area residents—providing benefits for nearly 4000 additional family members. Unskilled workers earn US$5 per day—a large amount in an areas where they are few jobs and much need. Women comprise nearly 45% of the workforce, assuring that benefits also flow to single parent households
Most of the work has been accomplished without machinery—with shovels, picks, hoes and wheelbarrows. The work is very hard, but the teams have taken great pride in their work. They are building a new future for themselves and their families. Try spending the day pushing a wheelbarrow full of cement up and down a hill! Or carrying 40 pound pails of water uphill from the river to the cement mixers!
The Project will have significant economic development benefits for the community. Prior to the beginning of the project, the road conditions were abysmal, with the only road to Sassier impassable for days during rainy periods. A primary focus of the project is creating a concrete, two lane surface for nearly a kilometer of the most treacherous portion of the road. Creating year-round road access will create new business opportunities and ensure that needed supplies can reach Sassier, despite the weather.
Workers have also re-opened a secondary route that provides Sassier with easier access to the towns of Roseaux and Leon—cutting the driving time by nearly 45 minutes. This route also reduces driving time from Sassier to Voldrogue, the two primary villages in the area, from 1 hour to 15 minutes.
Work has progressed steadily, despite Hurricane Tomas in November, a cholera outbreak in December, and political violence and rioting in urban areas that disrupted deliveries of materials and fuel. Torrential rain in January (usually a dry month) stopped work for more than a week. CRS officials have been visited the project several times and have been very complimentary of the scale and quality of the work. We are grateful to the CRS SYAP Team of Aysha Kassim, Shirley Rousell, and Emilio Jean Louis for their great support for the community of Sassier in this project.
CRS has indicated that they are interested in discussing additional projects with Oganizasyon Zanmi Sayse in the areas of health, education and economic and agricultural development.