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, with about 3 million of Haiti’s 9.7 million people, is the country’s economic and political center.

Haiti Western Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • These girls live in western Haiti, where only about 20 percent of the population is employed while the other 80 percent live on less than U.S.$2 a day. Haiti Four Girls in Uniform
  • The capital city of Port-au-Prince is surrounded by slums that have no water, electricity, or medical facilities. Haiti Aerial View of City
  • The rapid growth of slums in the hillsides above cities makes the exact population of the western region difficult to ascertain. Haiti Homes on Hillside
  • Children gather in front of a Port-au-Prince building spared by the 2010 earthquake. Haiti Children Outside Center
  • Many Compassion-assisted children become Christians and share their faith with their families, furthering the commitment of the church to support the work of Compassion. Haiti Four Smiling Girls
  • The Partnership Facilitator visits at least one child development center per month. Haiti Project Facilitator Visits Classroom

Overview: Western Haiti

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, with about 3 million of Haiti’s 9.7 million people, is the country’s economic and political center.

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. Since the earthquake destroyed so many homes in Port-au-Prince, many families have had no other choice than to live in “tent cities.” In these squalid communities, up to 10 people may be sharing a shelter designed to accommodate only two people. Many children orphaned by the quake are dealing not only with the loss of their parents, but also with the uncertainty and extreme deprivation of life in a tent city.


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 Western Region

Life in western Haiti was forever changed in 2010 when the 7.0-magnitude earthquake destroyed more than 150,000 area homes and left many children not only homeless but also without parents. Most of the children live in tents meant for two people but likely crammed with six to 10 people. In the sprawling tent cities there is no shade, electricity, or safe places for the children to play. It is truly a critical situation.

Along with the hazardous living conditions, crime is on the rise. From gang activities to kidnapping, being a child in the slums can be a nightmare. About 1 million people still live in temporary shelters.

Children at Home

The metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, comprising 2.1 million people, 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 into a makeshift shelter. 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.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Haiti

Even before the devastation of the January 2010 earthquake, Haitians living in the western region suffered the effects of deep poverty. More than two-thirds of the people do not have formal jobs. Most scrape by however they can, earning an average of $2 or less per day. Some men drive taxis for a living. Others sell small items on the streets. 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.

Another problem is the 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.

Local Needs and Challenges

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.

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. Most families prefer a home of three to four unfinished rooms rather than two finished rooms.


Schools and Education Education in Haiti

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.

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.


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 the 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 child development 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 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.