Why it Matters

Extreme poverty in Haiti casts a long shadow over hope, leaving families in a survival struggle without a clear escape. ​

Extreme poverty shatters lives, leaving a trail of relentless hardship and lost potential in its wake.

Each moment in its grip tightens the bind on hope and opportunity, stifling the dreams of countless Haitians. Through awareness and action, we can dismantle these bonds, helping families rise towards stability and self-sufficiency.

The Harsh Reality of Extreme Poverty

Children living in abject poverty face daily struggles that go beyond the typical hardships of poverty. Every day revolves around the basic task of finding food, constant hunger, making survival their primary concern.

This level of poverty excludes even basic healthcare services, clean water, and proper sanitation facilities, compounding their vulnerabilities and reducing their capacity to improve their circumstances.

The lack of financial resources also means educational opportunities for children are non-existent, perpetuating a cycle of poverty that is hard to break.

Children live in substandard conditions without adequate shelter, exposing them to the harsh environmental elements including extreme temperatures, hurricanes, and earthquakes.

Trapped in a Cycle of Exploitation

The restavek system, born from economic collapse and exacerbated by Haiti's history as the first nation to abolish slavery in the western hemisphere, denies children education and a childhood. They labor for long hours under harsh conditions, fetching water, washing clothes, and performing other heavy chores without pay. This system not only robs them of their dignity and potential but also perpetuates a broader cycle of poverty and inequality within Haitian society.

The Tragic Cost of Extreme Poverty on Haiti's Children

In Haiti, the term “restavek” painfully illustrates the devastating impact of extreme poverty on children. It refers to children, often as many as one in ten nationwide, forced into domestic servitude due to their families’ extreme financial hardship. These children, primarily girls, live in deplorable conditions—sleeping on floors, wearing rags, surviving on leftovers, and not uncommonly, suffering physical and sexual abuse.

The Heartbreaking Impact on Haiti's Children

In Haiti, the intertwined forces of political upheaval, devastating natural disasters, and economic instability weave a tapestry of suffering that impacts its most vulnerable—the children.


Natural Disasters

Haiti's geographic vulnerability to hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods repeatedly devastates infrastructure and agriculture, setting back any progress in economic and social development. Natural disasters destroy homes and schools, displacing families, and deepening the despair of a young generation.


Political Instability

Political instability rips apart the fabric of societal structure, leaving little room for stable educational systems or protective services, causing many children to fall through the cracks into cycles of poverty and exploitation.


Fragile Economy

The lack of diverse economic opportunities and heavy reliance on foreign aid create a fragile economic landscape, where large segments of the population remain unemployed and impoverished, trapping communities in a cycle of dependency and poverty. The fragile economy stifles opportunity, leaving families in dire straits, often forcing children into labor to help make ends meet.

Recent Contributing Factors

Crisis in Haiti

Learn More About Why It Matters


Yes we do! 

Haiti one month after the storm Humanitarian response in Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew By United Nations OCHA

Millennium Development Goals 2014 Report on Haiti The Executive Summary Report Millennium Development Goals, 2013, Haiti, A New Look, from the United Nations Development Program in Haiti (UNDP Haiti). This progress report describes how goals and targets written by the United Nations General Assembly in

‘Ignored’ hunger crisis unfolds in post-hurricane Haiti “In March, a report from the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that of the 2.1 million Haitians affected by the hurricane last October, 1.4 million still don’t have enough food or safe drinking water. . . Haiti’s

A Creole Solution for Haiti’s Woes IN a classroom in Port-au-Prince, Chantou, 9, sits silently at her desk. Nervously watching the teacher, she hopes to be invisible. Like most of her 60 classmates, she understands little of the French from the lecture. But if her memorized lesson is not r

A Girl’s Escape PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — She was a 13-year-old girl who said she was beaten daily by strangers who forced her to work unpaid in their home, and she wanted to escape.

Amy Wilentz, Politics of Post-Earthquake Haiti The Hinckley Institute Radio Hour (Air date: Mar. 5, 2014) – Amy Wilentz is a contributing editor to the Nation Magazine, and a professor of English at the University of California Irvine. She has covered the politics and culture of Haiti for decades….

Cholera will plague Haiti until water, sanitation crisis solved: experts Cholera will continue to kill and infect Haitians as long as they lack access to clean water and sanitation, with a thousand new cases reported each week, health experts say.

Fighting Cholera in Haiti

Haiti Celebrates First Cardinal PORT-AU-PRINCE — For Monsignor Chibly Langlois, the honor of joining the Catholic Church’s elite hierarchy and being among those who may one day choose the next pope — and perhaps be among the top contenders — is unbelievable. Read more here: http://www

Haiti hopes miracle moringa tree can help to combat malnutrition The government is promoting the cultivation of a tree rich in vitamins, minerals and calcium to tackle food insecurity

Haiti in Transition Well over fours years since the earthquake and many Haitians must still contend with serious after effects. See recent photos of life in Port-au-Prince.

Haiti switches on to solar power as sustainable electricity solution Solar energy is clean, green and can help to solve Haiti’s power crisis. Now the world’s largest solar hospital is lighting the way

Haiti, Unfinished and Forsaken Four years after the earthquake, Haiti is a fragile, largely forgotten country. It’s possible that some natural or man-made crisis this year could push it back into the headlines. But sustained attention, with the kind of support from outside that Haiti s

Haiti: A U.N. Cholera ‘Pilgrimage’ Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations visited Haiti on Monday and sought to assure Haitians that he was committed to ending a cholera epidemic “as quickly as possible,”…

Haiti: Better Spending, Better Services From the World Bank, Haiti’s focus on Heaoth: Better Spending, Better Services

Haiti’s Multi-Billion Dollar Humanitarian Aid Problem With 10,000 NGOS working in Haiti and billions of dollars invested in its development, why is the aid so ineffective? This article discusses the importance of local partnering so that Haitians are not excluded in hiring and local planning and the need for

Haitian Women’s Team Seeks World Cup Berth Since 2012, the Haiti women’s Soccor Team has prepared of the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Never has a Caribbean team qualified. With meager resources, not even the Polish American coaches and assistants are paid. Now they are on the cusp of reaching thei

Helping Haiti – Vijaya Ramachandran and Michael Clemens As the fourth anniversary of the massive, January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti approached, I invited CGD senior fellows Vijaya Ramachandran and Michael Clemens, experts respectively on disaster relief and labor mobility, to join me on the Wonkcast to dis

How the Poor Get Washed Away WHEN Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in November, killing more than 6,000 people and leaving more than four million homeless, one group was particularly hard hit: the landless poor. More than a thousand of the dead lived in a single squatter camp.

Living Conditions in Haiti’s Capital Improve, but Rural Communities Remain Very Poor

News Flash: Haiti Is on the Upswing Contrary to negative press reports about Haiti, some good news about progress in Haiti from Sean Penn. This article appeared on the Wall Street Journal on June 18, 2014.

Plans to rebuild Haiti capital displace families An AP story about the firestone of controversy surrounding efforts to rebuild central Port-au-Prince, where residents made homeless after the earthquake are again being displaced.

Rising Tide Is a Mystery That Sinks Island Hopes LAGO ENRIQUILLO, Dominican Republic — Steadily, mysteriously, like in an especially slow science fiction movie, the largest lake in the Caribbean has been rising and rising, devouring tens of thousands of acres of farmland…

Still Committed to Haiti The United States and so many of our partners have not forsaken Haiti. We know that business is unfinished; reconstruction and development will continue for many years. But we owe it to the people of Haiti to recognize the enormous challenges…

TEDtalk with Bill and Melinda Gates TEDtalk with Bill and Melinda Gates

The Secretary General of the United Nations continues to resist being served papers in a suit on behalf of Haitian cholera victims.

Turks and Caicos Islands: 18 Believed to Be Migrants From Haiti Drown Eighteen people believed to be migrants from Haiti died Wednesday when their overloaded sailboat overturned as it was being escorted to shore in the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British territory, officials said. The sailboat, which had about 50 people on

U.N. Struggles to Stem Haiti Cholera Epidemic Article from NYTimes.com

Update on Progress in Selected Public Health Programs After the 2010 Earthquake and Cholera Epidemic — Haiti, 2014 A report from the CDC and the Government of Haiti describing progress since 2009 in key health programs.

What Happened To The Aid Meant To Rebuild Haiti? After a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, governments and foundations from around the world more than $9 billion to help get the country back on its feet. Only a fraction of the money ever made it. And Haiti’s President Michel Martelly says the f

World’s largest solar powered hospital opens in Haiti The world’s largest solar powered hospital has just opened its doors in Haiti and boasts over 1800 solar panels on its elegant and otherwise, stark, white rooftop. Haiti’s central plateau is riddled with intermittent flows of energy- a fact that derails t

Between 1986 and 1991, Haiti experienced a series of military coups and unstable governance following the fall of the Duvalier regime. This period was marked by significant political repression, where former Duvalier loyalists often held power and opposition movements were harshly suppressed, leading to widespread human rights abuses including the disappearance of over 1,500 people. Notable violent incidents included the Fort-Dimanche massacre, where soldiers killed protesters, and the Jean-Rabel massacre, one of the largest single-day massacres in Latin America during the 20th century, where hundreds of peasants were killed over land disputes. This era underscored a continued cycle of violence and instability, with no effective judicial inquiries into these events.

Read more below. 

Haiti one month after the storm Humanitarian response in Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew By United Nations OCHA

Haiti’s History of Natural Disaster A complete list of natural disasters in Haiti via Wikipedia


The Agronomist – 2015 The Agronomist, 2005 was filmed by Jonathan Demme, with original music by Wyclef Jean. It tells the inspirational story of Jean Dominique, a national Haitian hero and radio journalist. As a youngster Dominique traveled in the in the Artibonite rice fa

Ann Pale Kreyol: An Introductory Course in Haitian Creole Albert Valdman, Renote Rosemond, and Pierre-Henri Philippe, Ann pale kreyòl (Let’s Speak Creole), Revised Edition, Indiana University, 2006. ISBN 0-929236-05-X.

Haitian Creole for Health Care: Keryolayisyen Pou Swen Sante Marc Prou and Mel Schorin, Kreyòl ayisyen pou swen sante (Haitian Creole for Health Care), Educa Vision, Inc., 2007. ISBN 978-1-58432-432-4.

Oxford Picture Dictionary English-Haitian Creole Jayme Adelson-Goldstein and Norma Shapiro, Oxford Picture Dictionary (English/Haitian Creole, Angle/Kreyòl ayisyen), Second Edition, Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-19-474014-2.

2014 Gates Annual Letter Bill Gates Annual Letter – 3 Myths That Block Progress to the Poor

FATEM Rebuilding and developing a common hope for a brighter, revitalized Mirebalais and its surrounding communities!

Haiti: Better Spending, Better Services From the World Bank, Haiti’s focus on Heaoth: Better Spending, Better Services

Many Parts, One Body Moving to Haiti with the Young Adult Service Corps of the Episcopal Church

Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator, US Dept. of State Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator, US Dept. of State

Partners In Health Health is a human right. We’re saving lives, revitalizing communities & transforming global health. Join Us.

Radio Stories from Kiskeya in Port-au-Prince Translation of raido stories from Kiskey in Port-au-Prince Haiti

7 Selections Summing Up Haitian History Recommended from the Haiti Times, Bridging the Gap, Brooklyn, New York, are seven books on Haitian History. These books are also recommended by Le Flambeau, a nonprofit that “serves as a portal providing youth of Haiti with educational opportunities that

For Whom the Dogs Spy, by Raymond A Joseph, 2014, Arcade Press Former Ambassador of Haiti to the US at the time of the January 2010 earthquake, Raymond Joseph has written a compelling memoir that describes his personal struggle for Haitian democracy. Driven to “loosen Papa Doc’s hold on the psyche of Haitians,” his p

The Big Truck That Went By : How The World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster NAMED ONE OF THE BEST NONFICTION BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Amazon • Christian Science Monitor • Kirkus Reviews • Slate

The Scandalous Message of James, Faith Without Works is Dead, Elisa Tamez, Crossroad Publishing Co., New York, 1990

The Uses of Haiti, Paul Farmer, Common Courage Press, 1994, digitalized 2010

Kèk fraz esansyèl an kreyòl / A few essential phrases in Creole

Bonjou / Greetings

  • Bonjou / Hello, good morning (avan midi / before noon).
  • Bonswa / Hello, good afternoon, good evening (apre midi, aswè / after noon, evenings).
  • Pwovèb yo / Proverbs: “Bonjou” louvri pòt la / “Bonjou” opens the door.  “Bonjou” se paspò m / “Bonjou” is my passport.
  • Li empòtan wè Jezikri nan je lòt moun / It’s important to see Christ in the other person’s eyes.


Moun mo / People words

  • Mesye / sir.  Madam / ma’am.  Pitit / child, little one.  Timoun / child or children.  Ti / teenager.  Etidyan / student.  Tout moun / everybody, all y’all.


Pou mande ki jan lòt moun ap fè / To ask how the other person is doing

Kesyon / Questions:

  • Sa k pase? / How’re ya doing’?  (Mwens fòmèl / less formal).
    Kouman ou ye?  Ki jan ou ye? / How are you? (Pi fòmèl / More formal).
    Ban m nouvèl ou / Tell me about yourself (in detail).  Epi fanmi ou? / And your family?

Repons / Responses:

  • Mwen O.K.! / I’m O.K.!  Mèsi.  E ou menm? / Thank you.  And you?
  • M ap boule! / I’m doing well!  (Literally, “I’m on fire!”)  Used in response to “Sa k pase?”
  • Mwen pa pi mal / I’m not too bad.  M ap kenbe / I’m hanging in there.
  • Mwen kontan wè ou / I’m happy to see you.


Pou fè entwodiksyon / To make introductions

Kesyon yo / questions:

  • Koumen ou rele?  Ki jan ou rele? / What is your name?  Ki jan li rele? / What is his/her name?  Ki jan yo rele? / What are their names?
  • Ki bò nou ye? / Where are you from?
  • Ki kote ou te fèt? / Where were you born?
  • Konbyen frè ak sè ou genyen? / How many brothers and sisters do you have?
  • Ou gen timoun? (manman, papa, matant, tonton, granparan?) / Do you have any children? (mother, father, aunt, uncle, grandparent?).
  • Ki sa kè kontan nan kominote ou ?  Epi defi yo? / What are the joys of your community?  And the challenges?


  • Mwen rele Pòl / My name is Paul.  Li rele Reveran Jenny / She’s Mother Jenny.  Yo rele / Their names are Carol, Libby, Paulette, Ana, Debbi, Jen, ak Peter.
  • Nou soti nan Virginia / We’re from Virginia.
  • Mwen te fèt nan California / I was born in California.  E ou menm?
  • Mwen gen de frè ak yon sè / I have two brothers and one sister.


Politès / Politeness / Ki jan ou mande bagay / How to ask for things

  • Wi / yes.  Non / no.  Mèsi / Thank you.  Mèsi anpil / Thanks very much.  Eskize mwen (Eskize m) / Excuse me.  Pa jodi a, mèsi / Not today, thanks.


Hope in the Midst of Desperation

In the face of extreme poverty, in addition to meals and shelter, education is the key to hope. Help provide a lifeline to the children of Haiti.