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Haiti 2019



At this Cape Haitian school, classroom teachers and staff work hard to provide an education that strengthens the minds and spirits of their students and provides guidance to families. Haiti occupies the western side of the island of Hispaniola, and poverty takes a toll: 35% of the youth are unable to read and the average child spends less than four years in school. However, through various resource groups and support programs, dedicated teachers are providing eager children with the valuable tools needed to create their own future.
– Harlen Persinger © 2016

République d’Haïti
Caribbean / Western third of the island of Hispaniola

Area 17K mi2; 28K km2

Arable 39%

Population 10.6M (624/mi²; 379/km²)

Gov’t Semi-presidential republic

Capital Port-au-Prince (2.6M)

GCP/capita $1,800

Unemployment 41%

In poverty 59%

Wealth owned by top 10% 48%

Life expectancy 64 yrs

Infant Mortality 47/1K live births

Literacy 61%

Languages French (official), Creole (official)

Religions Roman Catholic (official) 55%, Protestant 29%, voodoo (official) 2%, other 5%, none 10%

Education NA

Military NONE

Labor Force Agriculture 38%, industry 12%, services 50%

PCVs 1982–1987; 1990–1991; 1996–2005 CURRENT: 0; TTD: 516

Adult Books

Aunt Résia and the Spirits and Other Stories
By Yanick Lahens, trans Betty Wilson, 2010

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: University of Virginia Press (February 4, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0813929016
ISBN-13:978-0813929019 Series:CARAF Books: Caribbean and African Literature translated from the French

The Haiti of Yanick Lahens's path-breaking short fiction is a country demanding our compassion as it reveals to us its horrors. For decades among the forefront of Haitian writers, Lahens has embarked on a renewal of the genre of short stories that she inherited from Caribbean―and especially Haitian―traditions. Through her elliptical and sharp style she succeeds in conveying the authenticity of her people's tragic fight for survival within the scope of our shared human experience. Here is day-to-day life, packed with its myriad emotions, desires, and contradictions, against a backdrop of extraordinary circumstances. The men and women glimpsed in Lahens's stories are confronted with the overwhelming task of simply staying alive. "The Survivors" unfolds under the Duvalier dictatorship. The story, centered on a group of men who dream of somehow striking out against the regime, shows how fear is passed down from generation to generation. Life is no simpler in the post-Duvalier world of the title story, in which a young man is caught between a mother who lives a devout life filled with self-imposed restrictions and an aunt who religiously serves the spirits of Vodou but makes no apologies for working in the black market. The twelve-year-old girl who narrates "Madness Had Come with the Rain" finds herself swept up in a violent riot following the death of a modern Robin Hood. Lahens’s women, although they may act as the poto mitan (or "central pole") in family life and society, experience a particularly grim fate. In the eviction tale "And All This Unease" a beautiful girl reminisces about her happy childhood in the country in order to forget her current life as a prostitute. Yanick Lahens presents testimonies, opens intimacies, sometimes offers hope, but always returns to the despair afflicting Haiti, because lying within it is the key to her country. The first collection of Lahens's unforgettable short stories available in English, this volume will bring one of the most important voices in contemporary literature to the wider audience it deserves.

Lahens is the most important living female Haitian author in French. Her short stories in particular demonstrate an art, a style, and a political commitment of the highest caliber. Through the intimate window of Lahens’s mode of realism, this collection invites the gaze of the Anglophone world onto her. —Christiane Makward, Pennsylvania State

About the Author and Translator
In addition to her short fiction, Yanick Lahens has published two novels, Dans la maison du père and La couleur de l’aube, as well as numerous essays on literature and politics. Betty Wilson teaches in the Department of Literatures in English at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica.

Kids' Books

Serafina’s Promise: A novel in verse
By Burg, Ann E

Format: 299 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-545-53567-0
Age Range: 8-12 years
Publisher: New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2015

In a poor village outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Serafina works hard to help her family, but dreams of going to school and becoming a doctor—then the earthquake hits and Serafina must summon all her courage to find her father and still get medicine for her sick baby brother as she promised.


Documentary: Serenade for Haiti (Serenad pou Ayiti)
Director: Owsley Brown
Date of Release: 2016
Language: Haitian Creole and French
Run Time: 78 minutes

Summary (IMDB): A classical music school in the heart of troubled Port-au-Prince, Haiti, thrives despite decades of entrenched poverty and political strife. When a catastrophic earthquake completely destroys the school in 2010, a stunned and devastated faculty and student body pick up the pieces and find a way to adapt through the power of music and community. Devotion to each other and to the possibilities that the future still holds for them are expressed in the footage of children rehearsing in the rubble and in the rich musical heritage they have inherited.

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