Laurent sisters draw water from a river in Haiti

Understanding Poverty in Haiti and How You Can Help

The Laurent sisters, Amonise, 12, and Venise, 9, scramble down a steep and rocky path each day to gather murky water from a nearby stream, only to bring it back to a home that is crumbling around them. Meanwhile, Olibert and Yvonne Desier and their three children, ages two, seven, and eight, live in a shack made of scrap tarps, mud, and plywood with no latrine, electricity, or safe source of water.

Stories and experiences like these are not unique, Haiti is one the most impoverished countries in the entire world and for millions of people, this is daily life. That’s why Haiti is a primary region of focus for Cross Catholic Outreach. Not only is there a high poverty rate in Haiti, but there is also significant wealth disparity, nutritional challenges, a lack of clean water, and poor access to education and jobs. But since every developing nation is unique, it’s important to understand the root causes of poverty in Haiti and what you can do to help the people who live here. You can do a lot to help the people of Haiti and make a difference for individual families here.

The Effects of Poverty in Haiti on Local People

Poverty in Haiti impacts all aspects of daily life in the Laurent and Desier families. Chronic hunger and malnourishment are serious problems in Kobonal, especially among the children and other vulnerable populations. In fact, one-tenth of children in Haiti show signs of malnourishment. Poverty here also causes civil unrest and national instability, especially when the economy is failing.

The Alarming Poverty Rate in Haiti

More than six million people in Haiti live in poverty, which means they live on less than $2.41 per day. This isn’t enough to afford food, provide shelter, or educate young children. Meanwhile, approximately 2.5 Haitians live in extreme poverty, which is defined by living on less than $1.23 each day. The United Nations has estimated that national poverty rate in Haiti is 58.6 percent and that the extreme poverty rate is 24.7 percent. Yet the Laurent family and the Desier family are much more than just startling statistics, and they desperately need your help.

Hunger Statistics in Haiti

Yfaniel and his children are among this population and in desperate need of feeding programs like those provided by Cross Catholic Outreach. Even when Haiti is not recovering from natural disasters, food insecurity is something that leaves an estimated 40 percent of households malnourished and 30 percent of children suffering from chronic malnutrition. The hunger statistics in Haiti are startling, but they only reveal one piece of the puzzle for overcoming widespread poverty in Haiti.

Causes of Poverty in Haiti

One of the biggest reasons why Haitians like the Laurents and Desiers live in poverty is because their nation is prone to natural disasters. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 was a devastating reminder about how vulnerable Haiti is to hurricanes, with a death toll of at least 1,000 and 600,000 children left in need of humanitarian assistance. Haiti is also susceptible to earthquakes and floods, which damage crops and make buildings unsustainable. These extreme weather conditions have destroyed parts of the families’ homes and further contaminated the water sources they rely on to survive, leading to increases in cholera cases.

Political leadership, unsanitary water conditions, and too few schools also contribute to the poverty rate in Haiti. Families like the Laurents and the Desiers are also faced with income inequality, unreliable sources of electricity, and the high unemployment rate that leaves them without livable wages.

Global Efforts to Reduce Poverty in Haiti

After devastating storms, international aid has been sent to Haiti in recent years to help families like the Laurents and the Desiers. However, a lack of physical infrastructure and government structure has made this aid less effective than it could be.

Also, aid in the form of emergency relief isn’t enough to bring developing nations like Haiti out of poverty. What we need now is long-term collaborations to deliver real results over time. By investing in rural areas in the way that Cross Catholic Outreach does, humanitarian groups can help farmers become more sustainable and earn a living.

How Cross Catholic Outreach Works in Haiti

Cross Catholic Outreach is committed to the issue of poverty in Haiti through our Kobonal Haiti Mission to provide food for the poor. This is an emergency survival feeding program that provides monthly food rations to destitute families and elderly residents in Kobonal, Haiti, which is a remote farming community in Haiti’s Central Plateau.

In addition to providing life-saving food, our holistic ministry also works to build approximately 80 new homes for poor families here each year, aid the agricultural community with training and resources, and provide high-quality education to over 1,200 students at the Kobonal Catholic School. To further address poverty in Haiti, we have worked on numerous community water projects over the years to improve health and sanitation conditions. We also help Haitians grow spiritually by inviting local residents to attend Sunday Mass at Fr. Meaux’s church.

The Kobonal community and many others in Haiti and around the globe need your help to overcome poverty and feel the love that God has for the poor. Please consider donating to our mission today to fight poverty in Haiti in the name of Jesus Christ.

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