What We Do in Haiti
Since 1999, Freedom from Hunger has partnered with the Haitian organization ACLAM (Action Contre La Misère), based in Port-au-Prince and offering programs, including Credit with Education, to support self-help in four rural regions of Haiti. In the aftermath of the tragic earthquake of January 12, 2010, Freedom from Hunger raised funds to enable ACLAM to rebuild capacity to support the relief and recovery of the women, families and communities ACLAM serves.
- Area: 27,560 square km (slightly smaller than Maryland)
- Natural hazards: Haiti lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and is subject to severe storms from June to October
- Agricultural products: Coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum, wood
- Population: 7,063,722
- Ethnic groups: Black 95%, mulatto and white 5%
- Languages: French and Creole
- Population below poverty line: 80%
- Infant mortality rate: 93.35 deaths/1,000 live births
- Unemployment rate: Widespread unemployment and underemployment; more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have jobs
Haiti, a small island nation, is located in the beautiful Caribbean Sea. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispaniola, which was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Within 25 years of this discovery, the Spanish completely wiped out the population of Arawak Amerindians, called the Taino Indians, who were the original inhabitants of the island. France later took possession of the western part of the island, which today constitutes Haiti.
For over 100 years, the French colony imported African slaves to work in the lucrative forestry and sugar industries until, after a long struggle, the slaves won independence from France in 1804, the first republic to do so. In 2004, Haitians celebrated two hundred years of freedom from colonial rule.
Haiti is the most densely populated and poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Colorful buses called "tap-taps" are used to transport people through the crowded streets.
Mountains cover three-quarters of Haiti. In Taino, the land is called Ayiti, which means "place of high mountains." The climate is mostly tropical, with some semiarid areas. The majority of its citizens live in rural areas and depend on small-scale subsistence agriculture to survive. French and Creole are the official languages.
It is not surprising that many Haitians leave their country in order to find a better life somewhere else. Haiti is one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. Life expectancy is just 49 years. Over half of the population is undernourished and does not have sustainable access to clean water. Gross domestic product per capita is $1,860, compared to $34,320 in the United States.
One of the most pressing threats is the rise of HIV/AIDS in Haiti. The United Nations program, UNAIDS, estimates that approximately five percent of Haitians between the ages of 15 and 49 are HIV-positive. More than 30,000 people are infected each year, and at least 200,000 children living in Haiti are orphaned due to AIDS.
Freedom from Hunger is committed to strengthening our Credit with Education program in Haiti. Our staff is motivated by the determination of the women they've met to better the lives of their families. On a recent visit, a Freedom from Hunger supporter attended a Credit Association meeting in Port-au-Prince where he was inspired by this resolve: "Freedom from Hunger is investing in the enduring spirit of these women. This spirit is seen also in children, who even amidst the extreme poverty were neatly dressed in school uniforms with colorful ribbons in each girl's hair."