Fight Poverty in Haiti

Show Christ’s Love to the Poorest of the Poor

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For generations, the Church has played a significant role in fighting poverty in Haiti. While this has yielded improvements in living standards, nearly 60% of the country’s population — more than 6.4 million people — still live below the poverty line — too high a level for Christians to accept. Plagued by decades of political and economic troubles, Haiti remains the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Nearly 6 out of 10 Haitians survive on less than $2.41 a day.

By supporting Cross Catholic Outreach’s efforts to empower Haitian-based missions — many of which are led by priests and nuns whose resources are incredibly limited — you are part of the solution, creating hope in what has long been a hopeless part of our world. In an area so vulnerable to storms and hurricanes, where economic and political upheavals are commonplace, many families are living without adequate food, water, shelter, health care and financial opportunities. We rely on faithful Catholics like you to stem the tide. Clearly, you have heard their desperate cries for help and have responded with action as described in Proverbs: “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it” (3:27).

Read on to understand Haiti’s key issues, explore its history and consider the causes of its poverty.

A map of Haiti

Quick Facts

Population: 10,981,229
GDP – per capita (PPP): $1,800 (2017 est.)
Literacy rate: 60.7% (95.5% in U.S.)

Infant mortality: 48.2 deaths/1,000 live births (7.5 in U.S.)
Population below poverty line: 58.5% (15.1% in U.S.)
Primary religions: Roman Catholic 54.7%, Protestant 28.5%, Vodou 2.1%, other 4.6%, none 10.2% (2003 est.)

In Haiti, the poorest families are forced to live in one-room shacks made of sticks, tin and cardboard, with dirt floors and no running water.

The Problem

Poverty Rooted in a Colonial Past

Haiti has an undeniably rich culture and history, but its ties to French colonialism have weaved a complex web of poverty. In 1804, Haiti became the first country in the world led by former slaves — a success that intimidated slaveholding nations, including the United States. At the same time, France forced Haiti to pay an indemnity of 150 million francs — the modern equivalent of $21 billion — to repay its slave owners who “lost” their property. Haiti was shunned by other countries during this critical transition, leading to a cycle of debt, corruption, political instability and widespread poverty.

Haiti’s Caribbean location is also vulnerable to natural disasters. In 2010, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed more than 300,000 people and left more than 1 in 10 people homeless. Six years later, Hurricane Matthew made landfall as a devastating Category 4 storm, destroying homes, crops and livestock in the southern peninsula.

Despite the many challenges Haitians have endured, hope prevails through the works of devoted Catholic ministries —  but outside help is necessary to shine Christ’s light and overcome material poverty.

One way to reduce poverty is by providing clean water for vulnerable families and empowering vulnerable populations, especially women and children.

The Answer to Haitian Poverty

The Church

Cross Catholic Outreach is committed to the issue of poverty in Haiti through Catholic bishops, priests, sisters and lay workers who have the heart and knowledge to serve their needy neighbors.

Cross Catholic Outreach is working with Father Glenn Meaux and the Kobonal Haiti Mission to bring poverty relief, economic empowerment and spiritual transformation to the poorest of the poor in Central Haiti. For 30 years, Fr. Meaux has carried the light of Christ to an area once called the “darkest corner of the diocese.”

Defeat Poverty and Bring People to Jesus Christ

More than providing food, water, shelter, medical care, education and other material needs, our goal is to transform families and, ultimately, entire communities for the glory of Jesus Christ. With your support, we can change lives in a miraculous way.

Building Communities of Faith

Cross Catholic Outreach currently works with 17 partners throughout the country of Haiti, remaining focused on the Lord, serving with humility, and spreading the hope and love of the Catholic faith. Please consider supporting our brothers and sisters in Haiti, including the following worthy ministries.


A child at Kobonal Haiti Mission receives the Holy Eucharist

Kobonal Haiti Mission

Fr. Meaux has raised up a thriving Catholic community in a village once dominated by fear, suffering and squalor. Many lives have been changed, but deep pockets of need remain. Your generous gift will equip the Kobonal Haiti Mission to minister to the needs of the poor through crucial outreaches providing food, housing and education.

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Inside the computer lab at HELP in Haiti

Haitian Education & Leadership Program (HELP)

The first step to getting a good-paying job is to get a university degree. But if you are too poor to pay for the bus fare to get to school, how would you hope to pay tuition? This project gives poor but high-achieving Haitian students the opportunity to attend the University of Notre Dame, Haiti’s only Catholic college. Your generous donation will help deserving young adults achieve their dreams and fill the need for medical professionals in Haiti.

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Sister Alexandra at the St. Teresa Safe Home in Ouanaminthe, Haiti

St. Teresa Safe House

In Haiti, both women and children are trafficked across the Haiti-Dominican Republic border, often under the false assumption that they will be reunited with their families, find work or pursue opportunities for a better life. In reality, many are exploited for cheap labor or worse. Your generous gift rescues these victims from both sides of the border and brings them to a safe and confidential shelter. At this temporary home, traumatized victims receive food, medical services and the love of Christ while social service networks strive to reunite them with loving families.

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A Haitian family stands in front of their new home

Bethsaide Housing

In Haiti, poor elderly citizens often live in dilapidated houses, leaving them vulnerable to inclement weather, predators and a variety of illnesses. Through this project, Bethsaide Mission will build sturdy homes and sanitary latrines for impoverished elderly—and you can be part of this ministry of mercy. Your support will give poor Haitians safe shelter for the first time in their lives, and share the love of Christ.

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Your Gift Will Change Lives

Impoverished families in Haiti need your compassion. Your gift to Cross Catholic Outreach will keep the light of Christ burning and will empower the Church in Haiti to serve the poor and needy in many important ways. Your gift can literally bring food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, shelter to the destitute and the peace of the Lord to the downtrodden.

Change Even More Lives

Giving monthly is a small way to have a big impact. Your regular support empowers our ministry to respond to urgent needs and fulfill our long-term projects across the world.

Become a monthly donor today and experience the joy of impacting lives every month.

Is Haiti the poorest country in the world?

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is listed among the top 20 poorest nations in the world. (It currently ranks as the 19th poorest.)

What is the best hope for Haiti?

The best hope for Haiti is a relief effort based on creating holistic, transformative change. This approach is intended to give Haitians a hand up rather than a handout. Efforts of this kind have proven most effective, in part because they allow poor families to lift themselves out of the cycle of poverty. This is an empowering process that builds confidence, encourages self-reliance and restores hope.

Where did the 2010 Haiti earthquake occur?

On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti near Léogâne, about 16 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. With 250,000 lives lost and approximately 3 million people affected, this quake was the most devastating natural disaster ever experienced in the country. Ten years later, the effects are still being felt.

What do the people of Haiti eat?

Haitian cuisine is often lumped together with other regional islands as Caribbean cuisine; however, it maintains an independently unique flavor. A typical dish would be a plate of rice with beans topped off with fish, tomatoes and onions. This is often called “riz national,” or the national rice of Haiti. Black beans are usually the beans of choice, followed by red beans, white beans and even peas. Chicken is frequently eaten; the same goes for goat meat and beef. Starches commonly eaten include yam, potato and breadfruit. Spaghetti is most often served in Haiti as a breakfast dish and is cooked with hot dogs, dried herring and spices and served with tomato sauce.

What is chronic hunger?

Chronic hunger is often contrasted with seasonal hunger. While seasonal hunger is related to cycles of food growing and harvesting, chronic hunger is a consequence of diets being persistently inadequate in terms of quantity or quality.

Why is Haiti suffering?

Factors that make Haiti more vulnerable than other Caribbean nations (the Dominican Republic, for example) are its higher population density, extensive deforestation, extreme soil erosion and high income-inequality.

What causes poverty in Haiti?

Haiti was once the wealthiest country in the Caribbean as a result of the African slave trade and because it was a key player in the sugar trade. Today, extreme deforestation and the destruction of natural resources for export have left the country a scarred and troubled land. Haiti continues to experience political turmoil and extreme economic challenges. Poverty, corruption, vulnerability to natural disasters, unemployment and persistent illiteracy are among the most serious obstructions to Haiti’s stability and economic growth. Haiti is also plagued by strong voodoo practices, disease, unclean water, malnutrition and poor health care.

What is the poverty line in Haiti?

There is a new baseline of poverty in Haiti, based on consumption. The national poverty rate is 58.6%, based on the number of people living on less than $2.41 a day. (Extreme poverty is based on the number of people living on $1.25 a day.)

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Cross Catholic Outreach

Our mission is to mobilize the global Catholic Church to transform the poor and their communities materially and spiritually for the glory of Jesus Christ. Your gift empowers us to serve the poorest of the poor by channeling life-changing aid through an international network of dioceses, parishes and Catholic missionaries. This cost-effective approach helps break the cycle of poverty and advance Catholic evangelization.

Proceeds from this campaign will be used to cover any expenditures incurred through June 30, 2022, the close of our ministry’s fiscal year. In the event that more funds are raised than needed to fully fund the project, the excess funds, if any, will be used to meet the most urgent needs of the ministry.