History of Haiti

The Republic of Haiti is located on the western part of the island of Hispaniola, sharing a border with the Dominican Republic. The country is slightly smaller than the State of Maryland. The terrain includes rugged mountains, rain forests, palm tree lined beaches, small coastal plains and river valleys. There are several islands, including the famous island of Tortuga (Ile de la Tortue), located off the coast of northern Haiti.

French settlement of Hispaniola began in 1625 and was formally claimed in 1664. The fertile island became the richest colony in the Western Hemisphere, exporting sugar and coffee. In 1790, free blacks and slaves revolted together in the only successful slave uprising in world history. The nation declared its independence in 1804 as the first black-led republic. The free black nation chose to keep the original Taíno-Arawak name “Ayiti,” meaning “mountainous land.”

Haiti has struggled with political instability for most of its history. On top of political troubles, Haiti’s history includes terrible earthquakes, hurricanes, and fires. On January 12, 2010, Haiti endured the most powerful earthquake in the region in over 200 years. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the country’s capital, including the Presidential Palace, Parliament, and the Cathedral, killing more than 300,000 people and leaving more than 1.3 million homeless. Haiti suffered more than $8 billion in loss, just over 120% of the country’s GDP the year before. This disaster required massive international assistance for recovery. (Lisa Gunter)

Contemporary Haiti

Haiti today is an island with hope for the future. Hope for Haiti’s target impact area is the rural South, in and around the city of Les Cayes. Southern Haiti features beautiful beaches and waterfalls and is home to local cultural events including the national Carnival celebrations in 2012. The area produces bountiful natural fruits, including avocados, mangos, and sweet plantains.

Hope for Haiti’s holistic model of sustainable community development aims to address nationwide problems, including poverty, malnutrition, access to education, healthcare, clean water, erosion and desertification, and inadequate infrastructure to meet the needs of the people.For over 25 years, Hope for Haiti has partnered with existing community leaders to overcome these varied challenges. Approximately 90% of Haiti’s schools are private schools. By focusing on the school as the center of a community’s healthcare, water, economic, and infrastructure needs, Hope for Haiti connects, heals, and empowers partners towards economic sustainability.

Hope for Haiti believes in technology to foster education, human capital, and the economy in Haiti. Our cutting-edge programs apply concepts including social business, solar power, Ultra Violet filtration, and the use of Electronic Medical Records to efficiently solve problems and improve the quality of life of the Haitian people. We offer professional development opportunities to equip our team of Haitian staff members and partner institutions to build capacity to address the future’s challenges.