For nearly 50 years, Compassion has been partnering with local churches in Haiti to lift children out of poverty in Jesus’ name. Today, more than 124,333 children are benefiting from Compassion’s support and care at 354 child development centers across the country. Every one of these children receives the nutrition, access to health care and educational support they need to beat poverty and grow into fulfilled, self-sufficient adults.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than half of its 10 million people live on less than US $1.00 per day, and around 8 million live on less than US $2.00 per day. Food insecurity is widespread, particularly in rural areas, and a quarter of all babies are born with a low birth weight. To help tackle this problem, every Compassion-assisted family receives a monthly food package containing rice, beans, sugar, milk, oil and other staples.
Survival is crucial for infants in Haiti. For every 1,000 live births, 50 die. The maternal mortality rate is 359 deaths for every 100,000 live births. Around 22% of children suffer from stunting, while one in five suffer from malnutrition. Only around 49% of childbirths have a skilled birth attendant present.
Compassion Survival efforts began in the country in 2003, expanding into areas with the greatest need. There are more than 1,352 caregivers and 1,354 infants now participating in the program. Through home visits, nutritional support, stimulation exercises and parental education, every one of these babies receives the developmental support they need to have the best start to life.
The devastating earthquake of 2010 claimed an estimated 160,000 lives and left a further 1.5 million people homeless. To this day, many Haitians are still living in the temporary tent cities built in the aftermath of the disaster, with no access to clean water or modern sanitation.
The Haitian economy has struggled to recover since the earthquake, which largely destroyed the capital, Port au Prince, where industry and commerce was concentrated. Unemployment stands at 14%, and many of those with work are subsistence farmers who struggle to feed and provide shelter for their families.
More than 815,000 children in Haiti are engaged in child labor. It is common for parents to send their children to live with another family to carry out domestic work in return for shelter and schooling. However, exploitation and abuse are common, and often children end up as little more than servants, working for no pay and isolated from their peers. Many become runaways and end up living on the streets, forced into begging, petty crime and prostitution.
Education is highly prized among Haitians, who see it as a route out of poverty. Although primary and secondary school are nominally free, there is a lack public schools, and qualified teachers are scarce. Additionally, most Haitians cannot afford to pay for uniforms, textbooks or transportation. Just 67% of children attend primary school, and only 21.5% progress to secondary school. The World Bank reports that approximately 200,000 school-age children do not attend school.
Compassion is striving to create the conditions in which every child in Haiti has access to a good education, in which every child has enough to eat, and in which no child is forced to work for a living or sleep on the streets. Our child development centers provide an essential base for these efforts. They are staffed by workers who are dedicated to improving children’s lives in Jesus’ name and to reaching out to those most in need.
- 83% of the population is living in poverty, 24% of which are living in extreme poverty.
- 6% of children under five are underweight.
- More than 40% of the population has no access to an improved drinking water source.
- Nearly 75% of the population has no access to an improved sanitation facility.
- Just 61% of the population can read and write (the average for other Latin American and Caribbean countries is 90%).
- Approximately 150,000 Haitians are living with HIV/AIDS, and 4,600 people die from AIDS-related illnesses every year.
- Life expectancy in Haiti is 63 years.
Sources: US Department of Labor; The World Factbook; USAID; University of Michigan; The World Bank; Reuters; UNAIDS.