In Northern Haiti
Geography & Climate
- 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.
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.
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.
Issues and Concerns
- 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
Lack of education access
Many families in the north live on less than U.S.$1 a day and can’t 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
- 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.
- Eight-five percent of schools 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.
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 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.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing real help and hope to impoverished children in northern Haiti, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- water filters for their homes to reduce the incidence of cholera and other waterborne illnesses
- latrines in their communities
- education about proper sanitation and hygiene techniques