August 4, 2022

Challenges in Haiti

Haiti has continuously struggled to meet the basic needs of its people. Political instability and gang violence have plagued the main city of Port-au-Prince over the last few years intensifying the struggles for all Haitians. Over one third of the population lacks clean water and two thirds have little or no sanitation. Slightly less than half of the Haitians 15 years old and older are illiterate and there are many inequalities and barriers when it comes to getting an education.  If you are disabled in Haiti,  you will likely experience discrimination when it comes to accessing healthcare and education. (Human Rights Watch World Report 2022)

Politically, the challenges have intensified over the last few years. In 2018, the government announced it would eliminate fuel subsidies which caused massive civil unrest. Demonstrations increased in 2019 when evidence surfaced that funds had been embezzled that were intended for infrastructure and healthcare. In 2021, President Jovenel Moise was assassinated causing more instability and an uncertain future. Continued violence and lack of accountability for gang activities further erode Haitian’s faith in their government.  

Life in La Gonâve – An island of hope

However, given all of these seemingly insurmountable problems, life continues with hope and faith on the island of La Gonâve, an 18 minute flight from the city of Port-au-Prince.  The separation from the mainland is both a blessing and a challenge. Violence is rare on the island but the economy is dependent on the flow of goods from Port-au-Prince and so is tethered to their turbulent ups and downs. 

Though For You Haiti is headquartered and focused on life in La Gonâve, most of our surgeries happen in Port-au-Prince at one of the three main hospitals. The instability creates major challenges in getting our patients safely to and from appointments and surgeries. Roads are frequently blocked because of gang activity and kidnappings for ransom continue preventing doctors and specialists from traveling to Haiti. In addition, every patient needs to supply their own blood (if needed during the procedure), pay cash for pain and other required medicines, and supply their own food while at the hospital. If a patient is in pain after a procedure, FYH needs to be ready with cash to purchase pain medicines at the time they are administered or they will not receive them. Many of our patients have spent little or no time off the island of La Gonâve and even less time in a hospital setting, this experience can be extremely overwhelming. Fortunately, For You Haiti has a compassionate team on the ground in Port-au-Prince whose main job is to care and advocate for the patients and their families.  This team manages all aspects of a medical journey; lodging, transportation and overall patient safety while on the mainland. For You Haiti becomes a patient’s extended family, looking out for their best interest while they are in a very vulnerable situation.  

The Team That Makes It Happen

Ada Neilson, our Medical Director and our doctors, Dr. Junior and Dr. Berly have relationships with the various hospitals and doctors on the mainland of Haiti, on the island of La Gonâve, and overseas. This team is constantly searching for solutions for our patients. Additionally, our partnerships/relationships with organizations such as Childspring International, Haiti Air Ambulance, The Wesleyan Hospital and World Food Program are a huge benefit to caring for our patients. It takes not only donations, but a collaboration with a variety of organizations to find solutions for our families.

Estimating Surgery Costs

Estimating how much a surgery will cost is extremely difficult because of the many variables at play. This is where The Seed plays a critical role. Once we have committed to a patient we see it through no matter the cost. The Seed donations help us continue to care for these kids even when their journeys take unexpected turns with unexpected costs. The importance of these surgeries can not be understated. Without the opportunity of a surgery for a cleft palate surgery for instance, or a variety of birth defects the children will not have an opportunity of an education and many of our patients are seeking life-altering medical care. 


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