Haitian Food

Haitian Food

In Haiti, many families are living on less than U.S.$1 a day and cannot afford to send their children to school. At Compassion's child development centers, children eat nutritious Haitian food and also receive health checkups regularly. And each day at the center means they will study God’s Word to better understand His love for them.

Haiti Northern Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • The river that can slow to a trickle during the dry season and become a torrential flow during the rainy season is part of everyday life for this boy. Haiti Child in Water
  • This Voodoo temple reflects the popular practice of Voodoo in the northern region. Many children, however, believe the true change of Haiti should happen through the Church. Haiti Men at Voodoo Temple
  • The goal of Compassion is that all children feel valued and treated with dignity as they are God’s precious ones. Haiti Four Girls Smiling
  • The ministry of Compassion is unique, strong and effective because it is carried out through the local churches. Haiti Children in Church
  • 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 Two Smiling Boys
  • The Partnership Facilitator visits at least one child development center per month. Haiti Children in Class

Overview: Northern Haiti

Haiti’s northern region includes the island of La Tortue and the country’s northern peninsula. The prominent cities in this region are Gonaïves, Cap-Haïtien and Port-de-Paix. The terrain in the north is dominated by the Massif du Nord mountain range and the plain that lies between the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

As throughout Haiti, people in the north speak Creole. However, theirs is a distinct variation of the language that is a heritage of the original inhabitants of the island, the Taino Amerindians, who were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers in the 16th century.

The north is also known for its violent political demonstrations and for the widespread practice of Voodoo. Bois Caïman, the country’s most well-known Voodoo site, is located in Cap-Haïtien.


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 Northern Region

Mountains and plains comprise the northern region of Haiti. Les Trois Rivières is a large river that flows from the mountains and can pose a formidable barrier for travelers. During rainy season, it can swell up to 13 feet deep and more than 65 yards wide. People must use whatever means necessary, including boats, cars or animals, to cross the river to get to work, school, or simply to travel to other regions.

In impoverished cities in the north, houses are built with concrete blocks and covered with metal sheets. In rural areas, homes typically are made of mud and wood with straw roofs. The kitchens are always outside.

Before heading to school, children begin their day early by feeding their families’ animals and getting water from the public fountains.

Children at Home

In the northern urban centers, homes are typically two- or three-room structures of concrete blocks with roofs of metal sheeting. In the countryside, homes have one or two rooms. The walls are made of mud or rough wood, and roofs are thatched. Both urban and rural families usually have a separate structure that serves as the kitchen. Particularly in rural homes, amenities such as electricity, sanitation and running water are rare.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Haiti

Unemployment and underemployment in Haiti’s northern cities are widespread. Typically, urban citizens survive by selling small items, such as bread and candy, on the streets. Most northern residents live in the countryside and eke out a living as subsistence farmers or agricultural laborers.

Subsistence farming in the north is a precarious existence because people have no modern tools or effective irrigation methods. Large families rely on small, overworked farm plots, and even good harvests rarely produce enough to meet families’ nutritional needs. To compound farmers’ struggles, the wide variation in annual precipitation often causes droughts, crop failure and famine.

Local Needs and Challenges

The 7.0-magnitude earthquake that took more than 300,000 lives and left more than 1 million homeless also damaged or destroyed 80 percent of the schools.

Many families are living on less than U.S.$1 a day and cannot afford to send their children to school. The children who do attend typically travel up to two hours each day. Lack of sufficient roads makes travel difficult not only to schools but for families to sell goods in other parts of the country.


Schools and Education Education in Haiti

Officially, education in Haiti is compulsory and free for children between ages 6 and 12. However, only 15 percent of schools in the country are operated by the government.

The rest are private institutions that charge fees. Few poor Haitian families can afford these fees, and as a result, only about half of primary-school age children attend school, and less than 2 percent of children finish secondary school.

Haiti’s school year runs September through June. Children typically attend Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m. Although Creole is the everyday language of most Haitians, it is considered a second-class language, and French is the language of instruction in the schools.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Compassion serves children in northern Haiti through local, church-based child development centers. These centers are havens of love and learning for registered children. Here, children receive nutritious meals, hygiene training, and tutoring to attain standard academic milestones. They are also encouraged to develop their talents and abilities. Most important, children 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. 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 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 areas will find adequate employment to care for their children.
  • Pray for abundant harvests for rural families who depend on subsistence farming.
  • Pray that children will have the educational opportunities they need to overcome poverty.
  • Pray for the protection of families from such natural disasters as flooding and earthquakes.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.