In Western Haiti
Geography & Climate
- Haiti’s western region includes the country’s central plain, as well as the island of La Gonâve and the capital city, Port-au-Prince.
- This region was the most affected by the massive earthquake of January 2010. Estimates are that the quake destroyed more than 150,000 homes here and took more than 220,000 lives.
More than two-thirds of Haitians do not have formal jobs. Most scrape by however they can, earning an average of U.S.$2 or less per day.
Some men drive taxis for a living. Others sell small items on the streets.
A majority of the women sell a wide variety of items to earn money for the family. From soap to used clothes to fruits and vegetables, anything that has monetary worth is sold along the streets to survive.
Children at Home
The metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince is surrounded by vast slums, home to the region’s poorest of the poor.
Typically, slum homes are unfinished structures made of concrete blocks or whatever scrap materials can be pulled together.
These poor neighborhoods have no services such as sanitation, water, electricity or medical facilities and are among the largest and most impoverished in the Americas.
Issues and Concerns
- Even before the devastation of the 2010 earthquake, Haitians living in the western region suffered the effects of deep poverty.
- The lack of jobs leads many young people to become involved in gang activity, kidnapping for ransom, and prostitution.
- City slums are especially dangerous places to be, as anyone can be targeted for mugging or kidnapping.
Local Needs and Challenges
Around the Port-au-Prince area, most homes that are built remain incomplete. This is due to lack of finances as well as family size.
Lack of medical personnel and facilities
There are only about seven doctors for every 10,000 people in the western region, and only 200 medical facilities to serve the needs of the entire population.
Schools and Education
- As throughout Haiti, the school year in the western region runs September through June.
- In some heavily populated areas, children attend classes in either a morning shift (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) or an afternoon shift (2 p.m. to 7 p.m.).
- This shift system allows a school to accommodate more children. However, many of the region’s children do not attend school at all. As a result, illiteracy is a widespread problem.
- About 80 percent of schools in the western region were destroyed by the 2010 earthquake and currently are meeting in tents or other temporary shelters.
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
At Compassion-assisted child development centers in Haiti’s western region, children receive the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ.
Along with nutritious meals for healthy physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy.
Tutoring helps to make up for any school deficiencies, and most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing real help and hope to impoverished children in western Haiti, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- non-formal education classes in such subjects as music, plastic arts, painting, culinary arts, sewing, calligraphy and cosmetology.
- special grants for families who were earthquake victims in Port-au-Prince. Thanks to these loans, some Compassion caregivers have started their own income-generating activities.
- new schools, constructed alongside Compassion centers. These buildings are more secure now and are better prepared for any quake, even one of a 7.0 magnitude.