Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. For years it has suffered through political turmoil, international sanctions and civic and social unrest. It is also regularly battered through environmental factors, particularly hurricanes, that have cost many lives and widespread damage.
These conditions, as witnessed by Haven founder Leslie Buckley while visiting Haiti for business purposes nearly 10 years ago, shocked and appalled him so much so that he founded Haven. Leslie, and his wife Carmel, now spend a considerable amount of time supporting and initiating programmes that are helping build sustainable communities and providing training and employment opportunities for local people.
In Leslie’s own words:
“What I witnessed in Haiti changed my outlook in life. I was originally there for business reasons and, though I have travelled to many poor parts of the world, I had never witnessed the poverty, deprivation and pure despair that I saw in Haiti. It is indescribable. Something more had to be done.”
Haiti, despite the destitution and abject poverty, was relatively unknown before the fatal earthquake that hit the small country on January 12th 2010, and catapulted the horrific conditions to the wider world. Over 120,000 people were killed and 1.2 million were made homeless. Haven’s work in Haiti immediately switched to emergency relief, work that is continuing to this day.
Over two years after the earthquake there are still nearly 600,000 people living in IDP camps with limited basic facilities. Opportunities are rare. Unemployment is rampant and there are nearly ½ a million children under 18 who have never been to school. The cholera epidemic that killed a further 6,000 people highlighted the lack of basic hygiene and sanitation facilities and is still posing a problem for thousands of people. There is a lot of work to be done in this small, struggling country.
So, in a nutshell, that is ‘why Haiti’.