Lack of access to education remains a key obstacle to social and economic development in Haiti. Fifty percent of primary age children are not enrolled in school. Approximately 30% of children attending primary school will not make it to the third grade. Roughly 75% of all teachers lack adequate training. Less than half of Haitian school-aged children are enrolled in primary school and an adult literacy rate is of just over 50 percent.
Gross national income per capita is $520, about half the total for Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Americas. Seventy-eight percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day, and more than half (54%) live in extreme poverty (less than $1 a day). In rural areas, poverty and extreme poverty rates are estimated to be 84% and 69% respectively. Half of children are malnourished and over 7% of children die at birth.
Even before the earthquake, Haiti faced significant challenges to economic security. The majority of businesses operate in the informal sector. The wide-scale infrastructure damage caused by the earthquake further exacerbated the situation, disrupting businesses and destroying stores and other infrastructure. The most recent estimates indicate that 40 percent of the Haitian population is unemployed. Prior to the earthquake, 40 percent of households were undernourished, and 30 percent of children suffered from chronic malnutrition. While approximately 60 percent of Haitians worked in agriculture, more than 50 percent of the food consumed in Haiti was imported.
Orphans & Street Children
In Haiti alone there are more than 500,000 orphans, and this number is considered to be a low estimate. There are another 300,000 plus children trapped in slavery. The latest estimates suggest that in Port-au-Prince alone there are over 3,000 street children living and working on its roads and public squares. Compared with other countries in the region, Haiti has the highest rate of orphans (children who have lost one or both parents), who account for 16 percent of the under-18 population.
In addition to the orphan and street kids, there are over 300,000 children trapped in slavery called Restaveks. These children will cook food today they never will eat. These children will wash clothes today they will never wear. These children will not even sleep in the very house the keep clean. Most will sleep in the streets or find some other cover to lay their head.
Hunger & Malnutrition
One in seven children in Haiti dies before their 5th birthday, mostly from preventable diseases. Over 60% of Haitian children do not have access to the most basic of medical care. In Haiti, it is a major accomplishment for a child to survive long enough to mark his or her first birthday. In fact, 1 of every 14 infants in Haiti never reaches that milestone. Making it through the first year of life, however, does not ensure survival. In no other country in Latin America and the Caribbean - and in only a few in the developing world outside of sub-Saharan Africa - is a child more likely to die between the ages of 1 and for than Haiti.
It is estimated that across the country, almost one quarter of all children under the age of five suffers from moderate to severe malnutrition, a developmental inheritance that can leave children with an intellectual and physical deficit for the rest of their lives. In the Artibonite Valley, the Haitian "breadbasket," the only hospital in a 60km radius is inundated with cases of malnutrition.
Haiti is a beautiful country with amazing people, but it is broken. It is broken in the sense that the single most important resource Haiti has is being over-looked. It's Children! We believe that reaching, teaching, and caring for the children in Haiti is the single most important factor in creating long term sustainable change in Haiti. We believe that educating the children will give them the confidence and knowledge to be future leaders in their communities. Together we can change the statistics below.