Posted by: universallearningcentreblog | August 6, 2011

The Many Faces of Haiti

Before the earthquake, the image many of us had in our minds of Haiti was one of deforested land, mudslides, overcrowding, abject poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy.  And I, of course, won’t argue that any of those images are inaccurate.  Today, however, I’d rather show everyone another side of Haiti, a country with many “faces.”

No deforestation here

Pilate, Haiti is surrounded by forests that are relatively untouched.  It is a lush, green area with mountains, rivers and farmland.  To contrast this beautiful image of Pilate, Haiti, however, and so that I don’t misrepresent the reality in Haiti, here is another image, a satellite image of the island that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share.  Deforestation has many causes, not the least of which relates to self-sustaining activities such as using wood for charcoal to cook and for materials to build structures.

Another striking photo that I love is one of school girls ready for their first day of the year.  To me, they are the face of hope that inspires the mission of ULC and they represent the youth of Haiti who are still optimistic that they can be part of bringing Haiti out of its misery.  Statistically, these girls are exceptional as nearly 25% of Haitians never attend secondary school and 53% are illiterate.  Despite such numbers, education is extremely important to the average Haitian.  They value education above almost all else, but have little means of accessing the limited resources available.

Water in Haiti has the reputation of being filthy for its role as the agent that transports cholera through the small country.  Cholera is nothing to be ignored as it claims the lives of many unwitting victims.  Here, children collect water for their homes at a public water well.

This photo was taken prior to the earthquake and the outbreak of cholera.  At present, many Haitians living abroad are hesitant to return to Haiti because of how widespread the problem has become.  The next picture shows how gorgeous the local rivers are in Pilate, despite being unsafe to drink.  At points this river is used for recreation, at other points to wash laundry.

Haiti has many faces, is in fact full of contradictions:  gorgeous, lush forests yet forced to cut their beautiful trees to fuel fires for cooking and other vital activities; incredibly high illiteracy rate yet they place a higher value on education than many Americans do; crystal clear, inviting rivers that carry the invisible enemy, cholera.  This blog serves as a small snapshot of the contradictions that represent life in Haiti.  There are so many examples and the problems are hard to truly understand.  Some find the situation to be hopeless and think there is no solution.  I would simply ask those people to take a good long look in the eyes of the school girls above and then ask me why we fight the uphill battle to bring resources to Haiti.

What have you seen or experienced that demonstrates the many faces of Haiti?  Please share!



  1. Great work Jacques!

    • Thank you, Esther! I will let Jacques know about your comment. We hope you share the blog with others! Thanks for reading!!

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