A Conversation With SOIL's Human Resources Director, Wisner Jean-Louis
The year continues to be a very challenging one in Haiti – full of uncertainties for all Haitians caught in the midst of political, social, and economic instability. As an organization we are proud of our field team’s courage and dedication providing consistent access to life-saving and dignified sanitation services for some of Haiti’s most vulnerable families, despite the other uncertainties that impact daily life.
To give you a better sense of what motivates the SOIL team we are continuing to engage in conversations with members of our sanitation staff in Cap-Haitien to hear about how they are navigating the challenges we are facing in this complicated operational context and to see how their communities and families are faring during this time.
This week we spoke with Human Resources Director Wisner Jean-Louis, a compassionate advocate and long-time positive force within the SOIL team. Wisner has been with SOIL for over 7 years, supporting staff and families alike to ensure equitable access to economic opportunity and essential human rights.
Interviewer: How are you and your family doing right now?
Wisner: My family and I are living through unprecedented times. The recent situation in Haiti has increased a lot of stress, as my wife is also 8 months pregnant. Due to the fuel crisis and the uncertainty of any improvement in the situation any time soon, my family has temporarily moved to the Dominican Republic.
Interviewer: What does a typical work day look like for you? Are you able to work?
Wisner: I mostly work from home and when possible, I go to the office. In the morning, the COO, the senior manager and I have a meeting where we discuss an overview of the emergency situation in order to adjust our operations accordingly for the day. If possible, I also work on regular tasks, but my main focus right now is emergency management. I usually work during normal hours, but sometimes I work sporadic hours due to internet issues.
Interviewer: How is the current situation in Haiti affecting your ability to do your job?
Wisner: The first 3 weeks of the state of emergency really affected my morale and made me feel a bit depressed. But since I know I have a responsibility to manage the team and to make sure the team is safe, I knew I couldn’t give up. I have to make sure that the team working in the field avoids troubled areas so that they remain safe and out of harm’s way.
Interviewer: How do you think SOIL is navigating these challenges?
Wisner: SOIL has a dynamic team – from the Board and executive team to the operators in the field – who all demonstrate a real commitment to maintaining our sanitation services. The management team is understanding and supports the team in Cap-Haitien, which is truly appreciated and needed at this difficult time.
Interviewer: What inspires you to continue to do this work despite all of the challenges?
Wisner: There are two things that really inspire me. First, the real need for sanitation service in our communities in Cap-Haitien. The EkoLakay service is useful and very important. I can’t imagine how our customers would be able to navigate the protests and insecurity without having access to sanitation. Second, seeing how motivated and flexible the entire SOIL team is and the way we all work together to maintain the service is amazing.
Interviewer: Is there anything you’d like to add about what other members of your team are doing?
Wisner: One of our collectors told me about a situation he recently faced. He was in an area where people wanted the 3-wheeler he was riding so they could use it as part of a barricade. The collector told the protesters that he couldn’t give them the key because it’s how he makes a living and, if they took the 3-wheeler, not only would the sanitation service stop, but they would also be taking away the collector’s means of earning a living.
Interviewer: Is there anything you’d like to add or share about the current situation?
Wisner: At SOIL we do our best to improve the sanitation options for all, and we hope that each person and entity can do their best to help the country move towards peace and development.
Please join us in sending encouragement and gratitude to Wisner for his service by leaving a comment!
Your continued support of SOIL is more critical than ever before. Maintaining access to in-home sanitation protects families and communities against public health crises and waterborne disease, and is intricately tied to human dignity. As we work to keep families safe and healthy, we thank you for being a part of our community and helping to ensure our doors stay open.