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The Republic of Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Hispaniola is the second largest island in the Caribbean, sitting in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October.
Haiti is the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. About 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
Despite the economy’s small gains since 2005, a huge income gap still exists between the impoverished Creole-speaking majority and the more affluent French-speaking minority.
More than 120,000 Haitians are currently living with HIV and AIDS-the highest rate in the Americas. Fear of HIV and AIDS dramatically impacted Haiti’s tourist industry, contributing to the rise of unemployment to about two-thirds of the labor force.
Nationwide food shortages in 2008 sparked riots and food costs rose over 40 percent in 2009. The World Food Program estimates that about 2.4 million Haitians cannot afford the recommended minimum daily calories.
The 2010 earthquake leveled most of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince, killing around 220,000 Haitians and leaving millions homeless.
Land rights issues and rubble removal have complicated earthquake relief and rebuilding efforts, but progress is being made toward transitional homes and shelters.
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Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors. World Vision was able to work alongside communities to accomplish the following in 2012.
Held children's clubs and workshops, educating youth on their rights and civic responsibilities, and enabling them to share their point of view in front of local leaders.
Assisted communities in developing emergency response plans, so they are better prepared for natural disasters.
Equipped families to establish their own small businesses by helping them access credit and financial services.
Children and adolescents were trained in arts, music, painting, and crafts, and attended classes in trades such as handicrafts, information technology, accounting, and business management, giving them the opportunity to pursue their interests as careers.
Partnered with schools, parents, and the local ministry of education to furnish schools with desks and chairs, and provide children with basic school supplies.
Provided ploughing units, irrigation systems, and goats and cattle for farmers, as well as training on improved farming techniques, helping them increase their productivity and improve their food security.
Held environmental education programs for children, and planted tens of thousands of seedlings, helping protect natural resources.
Promoted awareness of HIV and AIDS and educated people on prevention, as well as equipped community and religious leaders with tools to combat discrimination and the stigma against people affected by the disease.
Provided supplemental food for malnourished children, helping them recuperate.
Enabled children to receive doctor visits, deworming treatment, and vitamin A supplements, to improve their health.
Educated mothers on preventive health practices, giving them practical ways to help their children thrive.
Vaccinated pregnant women against tetanus and held training sessions on preventing infections during pregnancy, helping moms and their babies stay healthy.
Raised community awareness on how to prevent cholera and other waterborne diseases, and distributed hygiene kits to prevent illness.
Trained families on water treatment and distributed water tanks, which increase access to clean water.
World Vision is committed to partnering with the people of Haiti to rebuild their lives today and to help enact sustainable solutions for the future of their children, families, and communities. World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in this partnership, with donors from the United States sponsoring more than 25,000 girls and boys. In addition to sponsorship, World Vision operates other programs that benefit communities in Haiti. Highlights include:
World Vision began working in Haiti in 1959 through the sponsorship of 27 children at the Ebenezer Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, providing food, education, and the good news of Jesus Christ. Since then, some of World Vision’s major accomplishments have included:
Geography and people
The Republic of Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Hispaniola is the second largest island in the Caribbean, sitting in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October. The original inhabitants of the area, the Taíno, named the island Ayiti, which means “land of high mountains.”
Natural resources include copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, and hydropower.
Most Haitians are descendents of West African slaves, with the rest of the population having a mix of European and African ancestry. French and Creole are the country’s two official languages, although the majority of Haitians speak Creole. English is often used in the business sector.
The Creole culture is a distinctive fusion of African, French, and West Indian elements. Haitians are particularly proud of their art, which has drawn international interest for its vitality and vivid colors.
In Haiti, children often marry at an early age. Because girls may marry as young as age 15, a sponsored child’s mother may be quite young.
Claimed for Spain by Columbus in 1492, Haiti became a Spanish and then French colony. A successful slave revolt in 1804 made Haiti the first black republic to declare independence. Haiti’s freedom from France, however, cost the nation millions of francs—a debt that sank the nation deep into poverty.
Violence and political instability marked much of the 1800s until Haiti declared bankruptcy in 1914. The United States Marines occupied the country in an effort to bring economic and democratic consistency to the country for the next 20 years. After experiencing a 30-year dictatorship and a series of troubled presidencies, Haitians elected René Préval as president in 2006.
In August and September 2008, a series of four powerful storms ripped through the country, affecting nearly 800,000 people. Then in January 2010, a 7.0 earthquake devastated the capitol city of Port-au-Prince, killing over 230,000 people and affecting an estimated 3 million people. In 2010, Haitians were also affected by a hurricane, a cholera outbreak, and disputed presidential elections.