In Southern Haiti
Geography & Climate
- The southern region of Haiti consists of the lowland area Plaine du Cul-de-Sac and the mountainous southern peninsula.
- West of the southern city of Les Cayes is the Pic Macaya National Park, where one of the few remaining natural forests in Haiti is protected.
- The highest peak, Morne La Selle, stands at 8,907 feet in elevation.
- The southern region is prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding. Every year people lose their gardens, homes and animals to flooding. Schools are closed for weeks during floods.
Most residents in the south eke out a meager living as small-scale farmers. The primary crops grown are corn, millet, bananas and black beans.
However, primitive methods and tools, combined with the lack of irrigation and unpredictable weather conditions, make farming in the south an insecure occupation at best.
In Jacmel, an old port city in the southeast, cruise ships loaded with tourists stop three times a week, which helps boost the economy.
Children at Home
In the south’s urban centers, homes of poor residents are typically made of concrete blocks with metal sheeting for roofs.
In the rural areas, mud walls and thatched roofs are common.
In both urban and rural settings, homes have two or three rooms that accommodate large families averaging eight members, and usually lack amenities such as electricity, running water and adequate sanitation facilities.
Issues and Concerns
- Because of its geographical position, Haiti’s southern peninsula is particularly vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding. In some areas every year, homes and lives are lost to severe weather conditions.
- This region was also greatly affected by the massive earthquake of January 2010. The southern city of Léogâne, near the quake’s epicenter, was almost completely destroyed.
- The southern region lacks sufficient medical personnel and facilities. There is only one doctor for every 12,000 people in this region.
Local Needs and Challenges
Lack of clean water and sanitation
Due to the lack of plumbing, children in rural areas must bathe in the river before dressing in their uniforms for school. Children in impoverished urban areas carry water from the public fountains to their homes.
Most of the homes have two to three rooms and house as many as eight people.
Transportation varies between rural and urban areas. In the rural areas, some children walk as long as two hours to school or the market.
Schools and Education
- Haitians place a high value on education, but few poor families can afford the costs of uniforms, textbooks, supplies and other required purchases.
- Sometimes Haitians receive money, called remittances, from family members living abroad that help pay educational costs.
- Currently, only about half of Haiti’s primary-aged children are enrolled in school, and less than 2 percent of children will finish secondary school.
Compassion Haiti works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Compassion-assisted child development centers provide registered children in Haiti’s southern region with the resources and learning opportunities they need to overcome poverty.
Medical attention, extra nutrition, academic tutoring and vocational training help ensure that they will grow into healthy, happy, responsible adults.
Most important, the children have the opportunity to learn about God’s love and the gift of salvation in Christ.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing real help and hope to impoverished children in southern Haiti, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- special interventions as needed. In 2011, for example, in response to the victims of Hurricane Thomas, 400 beneficiaries received money to repair their houses that were damaged by the flooding, while others had the joy of having their houses totally rebuilt.
- mosquito nets and water treatment systems as preventive measures against waterborne diseases like malaria and typhoid fever
- trainings on how to clean water, as well as sanitation and hygiene practices. Even caregivers take part in these training sessions