Making a Difference in Haiti

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Before going to Haiti, I thought I understood what poverty looked like. I’d traveled to poor places, so I thought I got it. When I stepped out of the airport, everything hit me at once:

  • The pollution from thousands of vehicles that wouldn’t pass emissions tests

  • Mountains of trash everywhere (including a miles-long ravine in a highway median that’s famously 12 ft deep with trash)

  • Merchants selling food and other goods in a market positioned right along the highway

  • People swarming and following the car, trying to sell you their products

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As we drove, the streets were packed with stray dogs, chickens, and goats navigating the sidewalks and traffic like people. I also noticed two toddlers sitting completely alone on a sidewalk, no adults in sight.

We take for granted what we have in America: a public education system, trash collection, clean water, a power grid, and control over who governs us. People compete for resources on this poor island country, paying U.S. prices for goods and land, but only earning $2 - $4 a day. There’s no infrastructure, so people use what they can to get by. They pilfer electricity from the power grid with jury-rigged set ups made with discarded wires. Many use water from trash-filled ravines, and most live in tiny unfinished cement block houses covered by old UNICEF tarps. Haitians are forced to live in the present, trying to make it through the day, unable to plan for the future.

The Vertile House is a beacon of hope in Carrefour. In a sea of poverty, they provide a life for the children in their care that they certainly wouldn’t have had, even with parents. These kids are well cared for, get a good education, and have the opportunity to explore their interests, which is a major privilege.

In addition to the kids that live in the house, Vertile assists children from the larger community by providing childcare and an annual summer camp. The house also infuses the local economy with money, employing cooks, caretakers, drivers, maintenance workers, and more. Without Vertile, these people may not have been able to find work to support their own families.

Even on a surface level, the work The Vertile House does is important; helping children in need. After visiting, it’s obvious that its impact is even greater: helping desperate families navigate their poverty with hope. We have the opportunity to directly make a difference in a community that needs help, and every little bit counts.


 
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Claire M.