Compared with other regions of Creole-speaking Haiti, the southern region is considered the quietest.  There is very little political unrest here, making this area a popular tourist stop. In Jacmel, an old port city in the southeast, cruise ships loaded with tourists stop three times a week, which helps boost the economy. Palm-fringed sandy beaches along the southern coast also are popular with tourists.

Haiti Southern Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • The mountain chain of the Dominican Republic extends through the southern region of Haiti. Haiti Green Countryside and Mountains
  • Women wash laundry in the stream as a little girl helps with the work. Life is difficult in the southern region, and children often must work instead of playing. Haiti Women Washing Clothes
  • Many Compassion-assisted children become Christians and share their faith with their families, furthering the commitment of the church to support the mission of Compassion. Haiti Children in Classroom
  • A donkey’s back is a common mode of transportation, and women will often carry heavy loads on their heads. Haiti Woman Carrying Bowl on Head
  • The goal of Compassion is that all children feel valued and treated with dignity as they are God’s precious ones. Haiti Four Girls Together
  • The Partnership Facilitator visits at least one child development center a month. Haiti Facilitator Visiting Classroom

Overview: Southern Haiti

Haiti’s southern region is known as the most peaceful part of the country. Political unrest and demonstrations, common in other parts of the country, are unusual here. As a result, this region attracts a significant tourist trade. The coastal city of Jacmel, in particular, is a popular tourist destination.

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 country’s highest peak, Morne de la Selle (8,907 feet), is also in the south, in the Massif de la Selle mountain range.

Most residents in the south eke out a meager living as small-scale farmers. The primary crops grown in this region are corn, millet, bananas and black beans. Pineapples, mangoes and other tropical fruit are also commonly grown. 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.

At one time, Haiti was covered in lush forests. However, deforestation began during the French colonial period when great quantities of fuel were needed for processing sugarcane. Deforestation continues today with the demand for charcoal for fuel in Port-au-Prince and other urban areas. Several large-scale reforestation projects have been planned but postponed because of social and political instability and the urgency of other infrastructure needs throughout the country. Today, only a small fraction of Haiti’s land is forested.


Culture Corner


Try this basic, but hearty, Haitian meal.


  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 c. dried red beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (13¾ ounces) beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 8 parsley sprigs
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • ¼ tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 2 c. rice


In large pot, bring water to boil. Add red beans and cook covered for 1½ hours.

Drain beans, reserving liquid, and set aside.

Add beef broth and enough water to bean liquid to equal 4¾ cups of liquid. Set aside.

In a blender, blend together the salt, parsley, onions, garlic and rosemary to form a paste.

Heat oil and seasoning paste in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Put rice in Dutch oven and stir until well coated with oil.

Add reserved liquid and bring to a boil, stirring. Add beans and again bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, cover and cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.

Remove cover, stir and cook about 5 minutes longer, or until no liquid remains.

Life in the Southern Region

The southern region of Haiti consists of the lowland area Plaine du Cul-de-Sac and the mountainous southern peninsula. 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.

Compared with other regions of Haiti, the southern region is considered the quietest. There is very little political unrest here, making this area a popular tourist stop. In Jacmel, an old port city in the southeast, cruise ships loaded with tourists stop three times a week, which helps boost the economy. Palm-fringed sandy beaches along the southern coast also are popular with tourists.

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.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Haiti

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. And only 69 hospitals and medical facilities serve the needs of the entire population.

Local Needs and Challenges

Due to 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 Education in Haiti

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.

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.


Working Through the Local Church

After more than 40 years in Haiti, Compassion still strives to reinforce the local churches and their ability to be powerful weapons in the hands of the Lord and releasing impoverished children in Jesus’ name.

The Compassion team has been working on a curriculum that would be uniform no matter which child development center the child attends, rural or urban. The lessons focus on etiquette and protocol, civics and civic duty, entrepreneurship, environmental protection, group dynamics, and strategic planning. These were selected based on needs of the children in the program and in Haitian society. The goal is to prepare children to become leaders and to transform their country with innovation, character and God’s guidance.

How Compassion Works in Haiti Compassion in Haiti

What started in 1968 has continued to grow each year. The Compassion-assisted child development centers enable the churches to help meet the needs of the people. The curriculum alongside the church enables the children to be taught holistically, which is the best way to reach the families and community.

Since the children’s lives have begun to improve, non-Christian families are more open to their children living lives with Christian values.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

The Partnership Facilitator acts as a bridge between the church partners and Compassion. They also are responsible for creating a team environment, and training and support to the centers and their workers.

William Georzin, a field-based Partnership Facilitator, joined Compassion five years ago. His job includes spending time with the families and the children as well as visiting each center, sometimes by motorcycle to maneuver the more difficult roads. He says the most memorable and enjoyable part of his job is when he is able to spend time with the children and is see the changes that occur in their lives because of the generosity of sponsors and the commitment of the local staff.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray that parents in the urban centers will find adequate employment to care for their children.
  • Pray that families in the rural areas who depend on subsistence farming will have abundant crops.
  • Pray for the protection of families from hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes.
  • Pray that children will have the education opportunities they need to overcome poverty.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.