Big Bridge #10

An Open Letter to America


Jeff Conant


Poems from Twenty (Survey) Questions (on corporate globalization) and a Statement of Hope


Sanitation Decisions

Toilets are important
or good all over the world
for washing
hands to block the path

block the path
of germs, is to part-
icipate in filth
be a bladder infection or

toilet voice in
sanitation decisions why
women need toilets
or men need more shit

all over the world
different needs have people
for different toilets
wash or wipe or waste

or recycle or flush
and forget or drop and
store sometimes not
permitted to pee

during daylight or
monthly bleeding or
pregnancy or ever
ever in public because

privacy is imp-
comfort is imp-
safety is imp-
status is imp-

or block the path or
germs need for privacy
need to defecate in
a safe pit so why do so

many children still die of
diarrhea? agencies, govern-
ments all promote in
sanitation and people clean

flytraps toilets waste pits
sanitary landfills leaching pits
for public care about needs
unmet needs without

a voice in planning for
refugees toilets are a first
priority near the house
after dark different needs

have toilets for cost
recovery different people
some sit some squat
some wash their bum with

a traditional kettle others
use soil and ash resources
use money first world toilets
use five gallons per flush the

total daily water use of “the
third world family” second pri-
ority for refugees being or
water or shelter (or toilets not

bullets) some wash their
bum with dollars squat and
shit and block the path to be
safe block the path
block the path to be safe


Mineral Policy Case Study: Phosphates

Canada’s wheat belt is

                            totally dependent

              on phosphate

              from Togo at present.

                                                        As the world
As the world becomes

                            more aware of the need

to safeguard ecological cycles and replenish natural reserves

                                          of this mineral will

                            – unfortunately –

              aggravate the political crisis and

complicate the matter [of state sovereignty]



The following poems were composed from a letter I received from Maglo Yao, a community health and environment activist in a mining region of Togo, West Africa. The letter was in answer to a research question I sent to mining communities worldwide seeking information on community health programs. The text as it is strays little from the original, with line-breaks added for rhythm.



Talking about violence
(sexual violence)
in our community
we can not compare
because it is common

How this happens
a girl can be attaked
during the day
when she is alone from farm.

Then two or three men
can decide takle her and
have sexe with her.
She can not reveal this because of shame.



Our community is
mining area
there are people
from everywhere
which increase
the chance of contamination

Girls are in weakness position
they wait for men’s money.
So men require from them
to have sexe without any preservation
and the motto is «body against body»

We do not have
accurate data of contamination
due to lack of means to organize
campain for sensibilisation

it is ashame to declare that
in this family we have a contaminated people.

Even in towns nothing is organize
and when they move into villages
they use this opportunity to spread the HIV
without knowing as there is no test.


Water and Sanitation

Most of our villages do not have pomp
So they use river for every activity
but what is dangerous is there (in the river )
they do amalgamation by the use of mercury
which is very dangerous for human being health.

Women and men take bath in those rivers
They use riverside as latrines where they sheet.
They do not know that when the cans are fulled of water,
in houses they produce mosquitoes which cause malarea.
Right now we are facing epidemic of cholera.

What is amaizing is now they think is spiritual force
activated by somebody at somewhere
The only dispensary we have is very far
and there is a lack of Information .


Mental Health and Depression

You know in our culture one think we know is
if somebody is suffring from mental problem
we thought is a spiritual manipulation
so they start the healing from spiritual field

The second reason could be the use of drogues.
In this case they do not mind the patient
for he is responsable for what happens to him.
As they do not trust on psychologist action
nobody brings the patient there.

Depression is considered as the beginning
of mental sickness there is no difference for them.
Before making difference between these two things
they need to be informed and sensibilized

At times the patient is treated without any result
he is abandonned
the reason why
they can be seen in town
most of time necked


Cultural Survival and Loss Family

The great concern of our culture is this:
If you go to village now is like you enter a dead house.
Right now the young from 10 years
leaves the village to town to search for the well being.

Sometimes the parents send them in order to help them
All this happens because the land is poor
and the rain is very rare.
They rush to the gold area to help their parents in village

The consequences of this are
Dislocation of the family
Olds are abandonned
Tradition is forgotten
No youth to labour the land