Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti, is located on the western third of the island of Hispanola. The rest of the island is occupied by the Dominican Republic. Hispanola sits between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
Haiti is occupied by just shy of 10 million people. 95% of Haiti's people of Haiti are black, with the remaining 5% registering as white. Fully 2.1 million of the population lives in Port au Prince, making it an extremely congested city.
Haiti has two official languages: French and Haitian Creole. While French is the language of the government and most businesses, many of Haiti's poorer residents speak only Creole.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 80% of Haiti's population lives below the international poverty line of $2 a day, and 54% are defined as living in abject poverty surviving on just $1.25. Poverty levels are reflected in a very high infant mortality rate – Haiti ranks 41st on the list of countries with the worse infant mortality. That means there are only 40 countries in the world where a child is less likely to live to see their first birthday than in Haiti.
Poverty levels are also reflected in literacy statistics. Just over 47% of Haiti's population is illiterate. This is due in large part to the fact that there are not enough public schools to accommodate Haiti's children. As a result, most of Haiti's kids are forced to attend private schools which charge between $100 and $200 a year per student. For families living in poverty, these fees are out of reach, and their children do not attend school. Without an education, these kids are often trapped in the same poverty which affects their parents. Returning children to school is an important step in reducing poverty.
Widespread unemployment makes escaping poverty extremely difficult for many Haitians. More than two thirds of Haitians lack formal jobs, and developing skills which can help Haiti's poor find work is also a priority.
The red triangles below mark the locations where we are currently running our lunch program to help the children of southwestern Haiti.