Yesterday’s post was a little bleak; today we’re going to share some “fun” facts about Haiti.
1. In 1807, gourds were the national currency of Haiti and all gourds were named property of the state. Today, Haitian currency is called “gourdes”
2. One of Haiti’s islands, Tortuga Island (Île de la Tortue in French), was a pirate stronghold in the seventeenth century.
3. Cow Island, which lies off Haiti’s southern coast, is named as such because it was once overrun by wild cows descended from animals abandoned by the Spanish.
4. The capital Port-Au-Prince was founded in 1749 and was named for the Prince, a French ship anchored in the bay.
5. Haiti was the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world.
6. Since 1804 Haiti has had four national flags.
7. The word barbecue comes from the Spanish translation of the native Haitian word barbacoa.
I still feel like I only know a little bit about Haiti. My normal process when traveling is to obsessively research and then to deliberate on every aspect of my trip. I’m a planner. However, on this trip, I really haven’t had that option. I’m along for the ride … and it’s only stressed me out a little!
When you do a broad Google search for Haiti, your search results are mostly current news articles about the reconstruction of the country and about the problems that still exist there from the earthquake that happened in 2010 as well as data fact sheets posted by various agencies. Even when you search something specific like “travel to Haiti,” you only get posted warnings from various state governments and broad information from a few of the larger travel organizations (Lonely Planet, etc).
Here are seven of the most startling facts compiled from a list created by Random Facts.
1. More than 10% of Haitian children die before age five.
2. Eighty percent of Haitians live under the poverty. The average per capita income in Haiti is $480 a year, compared to $33,550 in the United States.
3. Only 53% of Haitians can read and write.
4. Only about 10% of all Haitian children enrolled in elementary school go on to a high school.
5. Families who live in the country spend almost 60% of their income on food.
6. One in 50 people are infected with HIV/AIDS.
7. More than 200,000 Haitians died and millions were left homeless in a devastating earthquake in January 2010.
We will be visiting a town called Cange, Haiti which is located about 2 hours by vehicle from the capital city of Port-Au-Prince. Haiti is located on the island of Hispaniola, between Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean. Haiti occupies one-third of the island; the rest belongs to the Dominican Republic.
According to the World Factbook, published by the United States CIA, Haiti has the worst malnutrition (nearly half of the population is chronically undernourished), the highest rates of infant and maternal mortality, and the worst AIDS epidemic in the Americas. Whereas the infant mortality rate in the United States is 5.98 deaths per 100,000 live births, the rate for Haiti is 52.44 deaths per 100,00 live births.
95 percent of Haiti’s population is black; the other 5 percent is mulatto or white. Over 80 percent of the population identifies as Roman Catholic with another 16 percent identifying as Protestant (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%).
Cangeis a small village located in the Central Plateau of the country. It sets on the edge of Lake Peligre which was created by a large hydroelectric dam. Cange is home to an organization called Zanmi Lasante, or Partners in Health, which services the people of Haiti. Created in 1985, the clinic “[features] a 104-bed, full-service hospital with an infectious disease center, … a women’s health clinic, … a laboratory, a pharmaceutical warehouse, a Red Cross blood bank, and a dozen schools.”
As you can see, there is need in this community and we are excited in our mission to play a small role.