Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, the poorest in the Americas. It is not exempt from any of the great problems of poverty: thirst, hunger, violence, lack of infrastructure and work, almost non-existence of a health network. And so on. The UN calculates that between 2019 and 2020 the Haitian population group below the two thresholds of misery (per capita income of 2.00 and 1.25 dollars per day) has increased by 80%, from 2, 6 to 4.6 million people.
The determinants are the growing political and common violence, the flight of investors and capital (including Haitians), the exhaustion of remittances from emigrants (affected in the US and elsewhere by post-Covid-19 unemployment). A friend of ours, a well-known economist in Port-au-Prince, explains that to get out of misery, many well-paid jobs would be enough for a generation: jobs jobs jobs. Of which, however, there is no shadow, and the country is sinking. Meanwhile, in our small neighborhood of shacks in the capital alone, in just one month, sixty people were officially murdered on the street. To these are added those who have disappeared, the bodies floating in the sea, the women and children raped, the kidnapped. Lately, wandering around our businesses we no longer see whites: almost all of them have been repatriated, because the risk of being attacked, kidnapped and killed has become almost a probability. What pushes us not to give up is what pushed us to go from the very beginning: the imperative to stay with the least, an imperative that applies even more when people are worse off.
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The choice to operate in Haiti is a consequence of the personal events of Janusz Gawronski who in that Caribbean state experienced the drama and beauty of extreme poverty. “Once seen, even if only for ten minutes, it lurks in the heart, prevents us from continuing to live regardless” (Diary from Haiti by Janusz of 21 April 2016). As a result, since 2016 we have been active on the island of Gonave, Haiti, in the remote village of Port de Bonheur, not identifiable on online maps. The village contains about 600 souls, who struggle every day against thirst, hunger, disease, lack of opportunity. The surrounding area of the village reaches about thirty thousand people lacking what in the West could not be imagined. In a country where the population doubles every twenty years, there are about three hundred children in Port-de-Bonheur.
Our village has about 600 souls, who every day struggle against thirst, hunger, disease, lack of opportunity, in a deserted environment for centuries of deforestation. In the village there are no roads, but only tracks, between stones and rocks; there is no electricity, lighting, police, administration, doctors or nurses, fresh water, bathrooms, sewers, services, connections with the rest of the world. A part of the population suffers from hunger to the point of eating by swallowing earth. Malnutrition is endemic, causing a markedly below average growth in everyone and in particular children, a general weakening and lowering of the immune defenses. Some children and not a few adults live in substantial slavery. We have taken some children away from their “rightful owner” and welcomed them into a new community house. The picture is very difficult. Thanks be to God, people show an admirable resilience, joie de vivre, adaptability, intelligence, desire for change.
Human development is a learning process. In fact, even when everything is destroyed, one population can rise quickly, another not even in a hundred years. The difference is the collective functional heritage and the awareness of being able to build their own future (empowerment).
Bathrooms, sewers and services: bringing water to those who need it
Ensure first response health care
Building a house for destitute families
A community home for foster children
Create a meeting place for the community