Hispaniola, 2nd largest island in Caribbean (Haiti = size of Maryland)
Comprises of several islands around main territory
History 1492, native Arawaks fall victim to Spanish rule 1697, Haiti becomes French colony of Saint-Dominique, prosperous leading sugarcane producer, dependent on slaves 1791, insurrection erupted among ½ million slave population, resulting in declaration of independence 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines gave nation the Arawak name Haiti--world's first independent black republic
History (continued…) As poorest country in Western Hemisphere, Haiti plagued by political violence for most of history 2004, armed rebellion led to forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, interim government organized new elections under support of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponement, Haiti finally inaugurated democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006 Massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010, ~ 2 million people live within the zone of heavy to moderate structural damage (worst earthquake in region over last 200 years) > 200,000 Haitians died and millions were left homeless
Basic Facts Capital city: Port-au-Prince President: René Préval Prime Minister: Jean-Max Bellerive Geography: Mountainous, plateaus, valleys Population: ~ 9.5 Million Official languages: French (10%), Creole Creole is not a dialect of French. Language in its own right, with own syntax significantly different from French. Creole grammar is rooted in Central African languages, though most of vocabulary influenced by French & Spanish Main religions: Catholicism (80%), Protestantism (16%), Voodoo ( > majority) Currency: The Gourd (~40.25 Gourdes = $1.00) Literacy rate: 53% Life expectancy: 51-53 years
Economy Poorest country in Western Hemisphere Huge income gap between Creole-speaking black majority and French-speaking mulattos (mixed African and European descent) Approximately 1% of population owns > 50% of wealth Mulattos, 5 percent of the population, control most of the wealth Most densely populated country in Latin America and has lowest per capita income, with 70% unemployed and 80% living in abject poverty Industry: Sugar refining, flour milling, textiles, cement Agriculture: Coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, wood Exports: Manufactures, coffee, oils, cocoa Dependent on national donors
More Facts & Issues Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high food or waterborne diseases: bacterial/protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever vector born diseases: dengue fever and malaria water contact disease: leptospirosis Highest rates of infant, under-five and maternal mortality in the Western hemisphere 60% of people, primarily in rural areas, lack access to basic health-care services Numerous schools and hospitals have closed because teachers, social workers and health providers could not go to work for fear of violence 6% of Haitians have HIV/AIDS, ~19,000 children, and over 30,000 deaths caused
More Facts & Issues (continued…) Highest % of orphans in Western Hemisphere. Before 2010 earthquake, United Nations estimated 430,000 orphans > 10% of Haitian children die before age five ~ 2,000 children/yr trafficked to Dominican Republic, often with parents’ support ~1,000 children are messengers, spies and soldiers for armed gangs in Port Au Prince Majority of Haitians live on < a dollar a day Few paved roads, inadequate supply of potable water, minimal utilities, depleted forest In Haiti, 1 hospital bed for every 10,000 inhabitants; 8 doctors and 10 nurses for every 100,000 inhabitant Over 40% of population is under 14 years old, creating high dependency ratio (abortion illegal, women avg. 5 children)
Religion Roman Catholicism is official religion of Haiti, but voodoo may be considered the country's national religion. Majority of Haitians believe in and practice some aspects of voodoo. Most voodooists believe their religion can coexist with Catholicism or Protestantism
Voodoo Misconceptions about voodoo give Haiti reputation for sorcery and zombies. Popular images of voodoo ignore religion's basis as a domestic cult of family spirits. Adherents of voodoo do not perceive themselves as members of a separate religion; they consider themselves Roman Catholics. (In fact, the word “voodoo” is non-existsant in rural Haiti) Creole word vodoun refers to a kind of dance and in some areas to a category of spirits. Active voodooists say they "serve the spirits," but do not consider that practice as something outside of Roman Catholicism. Haitians distinguish between service of family spirits and practice of magic and sorcery. Belief system of voodoo revolves around family spirits (often called loua or mistè) inherited through maternal and paternal lines. Loua protect their "children" from misfortune. In return, families "feed" the loua through periodic rituals in which food, drink, and other gifts are offered to spirits. Two kinds of services for the loua. The first is held once a year; the second is conducted much less frequently, usually once a generation. Many poor families, however, wait until they need to restore their relationship with their spirits before they conduct a service. Services usually held at a sanctuary on family land. In voodoo, there are many loua. Although there is considerable variation among families and regions, there are generally two groups of loua, the rada and the petro. The rada spirits are mostly seen as "sweet" loua, while the petro are seen as "bitter" because they are more demanding of their "children." Rada spirits appear to be of African origin while petro spirits appear to be of Haitian origin.
Voodoo (continued…) Loua are anthropomorphic and have distinct identities. They can be good, evil, capricious, or demanding. Loua most commonly show displeasure by making people sick, and so voodoo is used to diagnose and treat illnesses. Loua are not nature spirits, and do not make crops grow or bring rain. The loua of one family have no claim over members of other families and cannot protect or harm them. Voodooists therefore not interested in the loua of other families. Loua appear to family members in dreams and through trances. Many Haitians believe that loua are capable of temporarily taking over the bodies of their "children." Men and women enter trances during which they assume the traits of particular loua. People in a trance feel giddy and usually remember nothing after they return to a normal state of consciousness. Voodooists say the spirit temporarily replaces the human personality. Possession trances occur usually during rituals such as services for loua or a vodoun dance in honor of the loua. When loua appear to entranced people, they bring warnings or explanations for causes of illnesses or misfortune. Loua often engage the crowd around them through flirtation, jokes, or accusations. Voodooists also believe there are loua that can be paid to bring good fortune or protection from evil. And, they believe that souls can be paid to attack enemies by making them ill. Some Haitians resort to bokò, who are specialists in sorcery and magic. Haiti has several secret societies whose members practice sorcery. Voodoo specialists, male houngan and female manbo, mediate between humans and spirits through divination and trance. They diagnose illnesses and reveal origins of other misfortune. They perform rituals to appease spirits or ancestors or to repel magic. Many voodoo specialists are herbalists who treat a variety of illnesses. Voodoo lacks a fixed theology and an organized hierarchy, unlike Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Each specialist develops his or her own reputation for helping people.
How poor is poor…? YolenJeunky, dried mud cookies (salt + vegetable shortening + dirt) to sell in Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince (risk deadly parasites or toxins)
How Helping Hands can Hurt
NGOs falling short in Haiti Foreign governments, relief groups and companies pledging to rebuild Haiti harm the nation’s long-term survival NGOs risk wiping out one of the country’s most precious assets: its independence. In early 1970s, Haiti was self-sufficient in rice production. Today, it is the fourth largest importer of rice from American farmers who are subsidized by the U.S. government Transformed into an aid-dependent country, weakening ability of state to deliver Government doesn't provide basic services - sanitation, electricity and drinking water, since much of that is provided by NGOs, or relief groups Vicious cycle, state never forced to own up to its responsibilties Educated Haitians could stay and help their country, but many prefer to move elsewhere for more comfortable living More Haitian doctors practicing medicine in Montreal than in Haiti Haiti's impoverished condition provides opportunity for companies to flock to country, being used as a haven for cheap labor in textiles and garment industries (cheap labor)
How Haiti Might Recover Haitian-Americans say the country can come out of this disaster stronger if they take more control of their destiny Analysts suggest Haitians create a social investment fund, used to funnel money that expatriates send to their homeland into investments in renewable energy, education and housing Estimated that up to 36 percent of Haiti's gross national product comes from money Haitians receive from other Haitians abroad Relief groups can help Haitians short term by not only providing food, shelter and water but hiring Haitian workers in reconstruction projects and soliciting advice "There's nothing worse than a bunch of foreigners coming in to fix everything," said a spokesman for CHF International, a humanitarian organization that is in Haiti. "Self-esteem and buy-in are very important for any community. They need to say, 'This is our building, our hospital.’”