Completed Safe Drinking Water Supply
Completed Equipment Training and Support Services
Completed Health and Hygiene Training Program
Completed Pump Repair Project
Completed Pump Replacement Projects

Why Help Haiti?

Haiti has a tragic history rampant with external political and military interference, natural disasters and short-sighted international aid projects. Collectively, these factors have contributed to Haiti being the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with many people trapped in a cycle of poverty. These problems are hundreds of years in the making, and development projects must be sustained over the long-term to help local people develop the hope and capacity to break these generational issues.

External Political Interference

Many of the nation’s problems can be traced back to its very roots. In 1804, after 13 years of brutal war, the revolt of Haitian slaves ended in the establishment of the first independent ‘black’ state in modern times.

Prior to the revolt, Haiti was the “Jewel of the Caribbean”. However, the world’s powers still embraced slavery and, out of fear that this might inspire their slaves to rebel, all trade with Haiti stopped. Overnight, Haiti’s Gross Domestic Product dropped to zero.

Finally one country agreed to recognize the new country: France! In an 1824 agreement made under the guns of a squadron of French ships, Haiti accepted diplomatic recognition in exchange for paying France for the value of what it had lost during the revolt… which included their value as slaves! These reparation payments totaled $14 billion in today’s terms, consumed up to 80% of Haiti’s GDP, and kept Haiti in a constant state of debt into the 20th century!

Fearing increasing German control in Haiti, in 1910 the USA gave Haiti a large loan to help it pay off its international debts and obligations. Following a string of Presidential resignations and assassinations, the USA marines entered Haiti in 1914 and removed $500,000 from the National Bank, effectively seizing economic control. The following year, the USA invaded Haiti to protect American assets. They maintained de facto rule through the years of WWI and the great depression. By the time it pulled out its troops in 1934, Haiti’s own institutions had atrophied, and it was not until 1947 when the USA finally returned fiscal control to Haiti… after ensuring debt repayment!

After a brief period of self-rule, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier seized control in 1956, becoming “President for Life”. He was the first of a long string of Dictators and military coup leaders. Despite growing violence and increasingly institutionalized corruption, many leaders appear to be backed by the USA to ensure that Haiti did not fall to Communism as Cuba had.

Haiti’s dictators left Haiti economically decimated. Embezzlement was wide-spread and many educated professionals left the country. In this unstable climate, it was hard to lay down roots and build infrastructure.

In 1995, the USA officially handed over military authority to the United Nations who still remain in Haiti.

Natural Disasters

Haiti is especially vulnerable to natural crises. Its location puts it at risk for hurricanes and earthquakes, and a lack of adequate infrastructure amplifies the effects of these disasters.

The 2010 earthquake tore a catastrophic path of destruction through the ailing island nation, killing 300,000 people and leaving Haitians with a herculean recovery mission. In the years that followed, a string of devastating natural disasters have fueled ongoing famine and poverty crises, given rise to the most deadly cholera epidemic in recent history, and squashed Haiti’s continued efforts to rebuild.

Hurricane Sandy crashed through the country in 2012, causing drastic flooding and scores of new deaths and cases of disease infections. Then, a three-year drought plunged Haiti deeper into famine and poverty.  

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew killed at least 1,000 people and leveled entire communities. Downed trees and collapsed buildings blocked roadways in some of the worst-hit areas, making it extremely difficult to deliver desperately needed supplies and support. Experts correctly predicted the storm would lead to a resurgence of sicknesses like diarrhea and cholera.

After each tragedy, Haitians begin the rebuilding process once again. But they are hampered by short-term aid.

Cycle of Poverty

Over 50% of the people in Haiti are living in poverty. They are caught in what is known as the “Cycle of Poverty”. This is where “disadvantages collectively work in a circular process making it virtually impossible for individuals to break the cycle”. This occurs when poor people do not have the resources necessary to get out of poverty, such as financial capital, education, or connections. In other words, impoverished individuals do not have access to economic and social resources as a result of their poverty. This lack may increase their poverty.

Many Haitians are caught in this cycle of poverty where their incomes are insufficient to cover even their most basic needs. As seen by their history, innocent children are born into this cycle due to factors going back over a hundred years.

Issues with roots this deep cannot be effectively resolved in a few short years. Yet for the sake of global justice and peace, we Canadians must provide the strong support needed to help Haitians break out of this cycle. We must continue to share our time, talent and resources until the day comes that the place a child is born does not determine whether they are likely to live.

Sustainable Development

There is some distrust of humanitarian organizations in Haiti due to slow reconstruction following the 2010 earthquake, despite billions of dollars raised in international aid. The Red Cross, for example, is accused of building only six homes in Haiti with nearly half a billion dollars in donated funds, and spending millions on internal expenses.

Many aid initiatives are short-term, leading to problems labelled as “When Helping Hurts”. Essentially, people build dependency on foreign aid that is then removed prior to building sustainable self-reliance, leaving Haiti worse off than before the aid was given.

For example, Lifewater d’Haiti workers have found hundreds of broken pumps that were installed by aid groups who are no longer in Haiti. These pumps are now being repaired by Lifewater d’Haiti workers.

Why Work Through Lifewater Canada?

As a result of these issues, Lifewater Canada is taking a long-term approach focused on grass-roots level, sustainable development. Our focus is training and equipping local workers rather than coming in and doing things as a handout for people.

In Haiti, this is done through Lifewater d’Haiti. This is a local, non-profit Haitian organization that Lifewater Canada helped establish. It is a long-term process to help build the skills needed to run this small business, manage inventories, prepare and adhere to budgets, engage in preventative maintenance for trucks and equipment, and to build strong Group Leaders within each team.  We are committed to this approach as it is only way to build the human capital needed to break Haiti’s cycle of poverty and help it eventually end its dependence on foreign aid.

Because of its local character and small size (compared to organizations like the Red Cross), Lifewater d’Haiti is able to remain agile and responsive. For example, relief supplies were quickly brought to and distributed in Port au Prince after the earthquake using local road networks while many aid supplies were stuck at the airport. Similarly, crews were out the day after Hurricane Irma passed to disinfect and repair any water supplies that had been damaged.

Every $1 you give provides a child with safe water for a year!

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Thunder Bay, ON P7E 5L1

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