Haiti is a beautiful Caribbean island country, rich with culture and history. Despite all of it's beauty, Haiti struggles with a poverty stricken economy and health care crisis. With a majority of the country barely able to survive on a day to day basis, it is in dire need of change.
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and devastated Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010. This left 316,000 people dead and 1.6 million homeless. The Presidential palace, Parliament and many other important structures were destroyed, along with countless homes and businesses. A large part of the population has been living in tents or have been moved to temporary tent cities in more rural areas of the country. To date, progress is very slow with most areas not seeing much improvement.
The estimated population of Haiti is 9.8 million, with half of the population being under 20 years old. There are about half a million children in orphanages. Some of these children lost one or both parents in the earthquake, others were unable to stay with their parents due to the inability to be provided with basic care. This has brought a great burden on orphanages and other homes that take care of these children. There is a daily struggle to provide food, clean water, education and health care.
Haiti has the highest rate of child mortality in the western hemisphere. Almost half of the children in Haiti are unvaccinated and only 40% of the population has access to basic health care. There are several conditions that are common in Haiti including cholera epidemics, waterborne diseases, intestinal parasites, malaria and HIV. Hospitals in Haiti are understaffed and under budget. There are few that are able to be seen and due to finances, they can rarely afford the care. In addition to this, these facilities are unable to provide advanced care or have the equipment needed to give treatment.
Education is another stumbling block for Haitian children, with only around 50% of the population being literate. With so much of the population being young, education needs to be a priority. The level of schooling being received will have a direct effect on the future of the country. Very few continue their education past the 6th grade level. To contribute to their future country, kids need to be enabled with the tools to succeed.
Housing is another area of concern. Since the earthquake, many still live in temporary tents. Current estimates for the homeless population is near 2.1 million people, which is roughly one fifth of the population. Landowners in Haiti are trying to evict refugee the people of the refugee camps. Others that are still living in homes, live in unstable- often unrepairable structures.
Waterborne illnesses cause many life threatening diseases. Typhoid, cholera and chronic diarrhea is common among the population. This contributes to nearly half of the deaths in Haiti every year. Clean water systems are needed.