Most of the work Deep Water does in Haiti is on the island of La Gonave. La Gonave is a small island off of the coast, a several hour drive and boat ride from Port au Prince. Although a very quiet and beautiful island La Gonave is challenged by its lack of resources, infrastructure, and support. Many of the residents of the island have no economic opportunity and suffer from malnutrition. La Gonave is an island with no form of public transportation, lack of roads, no electricity, nor safe water systems. Most residents walk hours daily to get fresh drinkable water and chronic health problems due to the challenges found on the island are suffered by many.
Many of the people with whom we work on the island eat once every other day or every couple of days. On the days that they do eat, the meal consists of a beans and rice or, in the most poverty-stricken situations, cornmeal mush. Occasionally, some fish or goat meat in sauce is served over the rice and beans. Almost no one has a job. The people rely on odd jobs, the sale of personal possessions or, in desperate cases, the sale of their bodies to obtain money to buy food. Few can afford a meal that includes meat and some families are eating only cornmeal mush. A condition known as kwashiorkor is evidenced in many of the children by their distended bellies and orange-tinted hair. This condition is the result of insufficient protein and certain nutrients.
There are numerous large families with young children. In some cases there is a male head of household but in many instances the family is headed by a woman who has lost her husband to disease or who has been abandoned.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with 80% of the population living under the poverty line. On LaGonave, poverty is particularly significant with malnourishment and ill health amongst the population. The beginning of the solution on La Gonave is to create employment and healthy communities. To achieve those goals, improved and varied education, adequate healthcare, capacity-building and community-building are necessary.
Of Haiti’s 8.7 million inhabitants, just below half are illiterate. The literacy rate of 52.9% is the lowest in the region. Haiti counts 15,200 primary schools, of which 90% are non-public and managed by the communities, religious organizations or NGOs. The enrolment rate for primary school is 67%, of which less than 30% reach 6th grade. Secondary schools enrol 20% of eligible-age children.
Projects that past teams have been involved in include: classes at an orphanage, teaching business seminars, painting, construction & maintenance.
A typical day for me would roughly go like this: teams usually have breakfast at 7am. At around 7:45-8:00, they start working on a project. Some teams have also started work earlier in the morning so they could be done work earlier in the afternoon (to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day). Lunch is served at noon. They can work for the afternoon and come back for supper at 5pm. Evenings are usually free.
Some of my daily activities will include:
- Visiting an orphanage
- Visit La Saline (it’s a little village close to the beach –the poorest people live there);
- Visiting local schools
- Touring the local hospital
Thank you for reading guys,