The Amazing Machine
A film about Public Health and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene)
Nan Zoran is a Port-au-Prince neighborhood like so many others. Which is its problem. People have to get their water from a single dirty, rubbish-filled stream. Today, Gerard and his Grandmother have come to the stream for water. A stream which others are using as a toilet … His Grandmother knows she must purify the water before they can drink it. Not everyone, however, is this wise. A man who pooped into the stream, a stream where many others have pooped, fills his cup and drinks from it. He’ll get diarrhoea for sure!! We hope he makes it to a latrine this time, otherwise he’s going to spread that sickness around.
At the same stream, another day, we meet Gerard and his friend Francois. A strange carnival band appears, with an even stranger-looking machine. It’s a Magic Machine, the Band Leader explains, and it runs entirely on rubbish. The boys are skeptical. “What does it do?” ”Why, it does everything,” the Band Leader explains. “It will bring you good fortune! It will keep you healthy! It will make everything beautiful! Yes, this magic machine does it all! All you have to do is feed it!” However, the machine won’t eat anything that’s still useful, or can be recycled.
When Buddy, a stray dog, disappears behind a rock, the boys joke that it’s a shame the machine doesn’t run on poop – there’s lots of that round here! “You boys are lucky,” the Band Leader responds. “This machine is so magic, it turns poop into something more precious than gold.” The boys scoop it all up and take it to a latrine – where poop should go in the first place, of course, dreaming of riches and motorbikes. One more thing – they must wash their hands with soap.
Gerard and Francois get to work. They collect up all the rubbish to feed to the machine. They separate useful things and toss them into a recycling bin. Rubbish is pulled from the stream. Poop goes into a special bucket, and then into a latrine. Finished, the area looks beautiful. A little girl is overjoyed to find a tyre swing they fixed from a tree. Gerard’s Grandmother can’t believe her eyes.
But the boys have a question. What does the machine make out of poop? What could be more precious than gold? Before he answers, the Band Leader begins to take the machine away. Gerard and Francois are horrified. “We need its magic!” they cry. “What, there’s no magic in this old thing!” the Band Leader says. “The magic…
“It’s in us! Isn’t it?” Gerard realises. It was he and Francois who did all the work and made the whole area beautiful. But – what’s more precious than gold?
Clean water. Clean, healthy water is the most precious thing in the whole world, more precious than gold… or even a motorbike! However, just because the water looks clean doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink. For now, they will still have to purify it.
“Only you have the power to clean up your rubbish,” the Band Leader concludes. “To reuse and recycle and protect your waterways from sewage! So, use that power, go out there and make a little magic, because THE MAGIC IS IN US!!”