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Haiti

We have been working in Haiti for more than 40 years and launched a country office in 2008. We are currently involved in 18 different projects supporting an estimated 21,500 children.

Haiti

The poorest country in the Western hemisphere

Of Haiti’s nine million people, 80 percent live in extreme poverty. Even before the earthquake in 2010, both the education system and healthcare system were in very poor shape. Unemployment lies at the core of this poverty, particularly in the case of rural populations and large families in peri-urban areas. Children suffer particularly from malnutrition, diseases, and a lack of prospects to escape the cycle of poverty. Following the earthquake and the cholera outbreak in October 2010, we provided reconstruction and medical assistance. Kindernothilfe set up numerous children’s centres that serve as safe havens for the most vulnerable members of society. At present, we are implementing projects in education, vocational training, and agro-ecology. We also assist local partners dedicated to protecting children and set up an extensive self-help group programme to build the resilience and capacity of women and their social environment.

The challenges

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. The island, the first country in the Americas to eliminate slavery in 1804, has struggled with unstable governments, extreme poverty, and poor infrastructure. Chronic underemployment has left many rural and urban families utterly destitute. The country also suffers from diseases typically associated with poverty such as tuberculosis, typhoid, and diarrhoea, while HIV/AIDS is also widespread. Health risks are exacerbated by bad living conditions and a lack of sanitary facilities and access to drinking water.

Two girls, one of them is excited about a book which she holds up. (Source: Jürgen Schübelin)
One in four children in Haiti cannot read and write.

The earthquake left many people homeless. Children make up roughly 50 percent of the Haitian population, with almost 35 percent aged 14 and younger. They are particularly affected by precarious conditions that often stunt their development. Only one in four primary school-aged children (almost 500,000) go to school. Due to weak government structures, most schools are private and well beyond the means of the vast majority. Although the government has declared education a key priority, schools continue to be poorly equipped. An estimated 100,000 children have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. In addition, there are children who are exploited as domestic servants in private families – these “restavec” (coming from the French “rester avec” meaning “to stay with”) are physically and often sexually abused.

  • Our work in the country

    In Haiti, our work mainly focuses on formal and non-formal education, building schools, raising awareness for children’s rights, and helping restavec children to improve their lot. The self-help programme, aimed at the poorest of the poor, is designed to strengthen social cohesion among women in rural areas and improve the financial situations of families. This economic, social, and political support will ultimately benefit their children as well. Dedicated projects give young people intensive training courses (woodwork, plumbing, bricklaying), which help to prepare them for their professional future. In addition, we put our weight behind agro-ecological measures with a view to improving the food situation in both rural and urban areas.

    One key area is our work with restavec children. In districts of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, these children can attend school and make up for lost ground by taking special remedial lessons. By providing non-formal (non-state) basic education and vocational training, restavec children are integrated into society. Our advocacy work and awareness-raising measures gives important background information on these children and their special situation. The aim is to improve the lives of restavec children and give them a brighter future.

  • Key figures on Haiti

    • 10 million people live in Haiti
    • 43 % of all Haitians are younger than 18
    • 12 % of all children under the age of 5 are underweight
    • 77 % of the population lives on less than 2 US-Dollar per day
    • 21 % of children between the ages of five and 14 have to work

    Sources: World Factbook, United Nations

Haiti: The rocky road to effective education

Haiti: The rocky road to effective education

Years after the disaster struck, Kindernothilfe continues to work with its local partners to alleviate the educational crisis in this poverty-stricken country.

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How we work

How we work

Learn more about how we realize children’s rights.

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An overview of our projects and countries

An overview of our projects and countries

We are currently supporting 1.8 million children in 29 countries. Click here to read selected project descriptions.

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