Ile A Vache Haiti

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The Good Samaritan
Foundation of Haiti, Inc.

Mandy Thody Mandy Thody

Ile A Vache Haiti

Ile La Vache, Haiti

drinking water

Haiti is a very mountainous country with more than 3/4ths of the territory being 600 feet and above.

It's climate is tropical and semiarid.

Fertile valleys are interspersed between the mountain ranges forming vast areas of contrast between elevations in many areas throughout the territory.

The country (and Hispaniola) is separated from Cuba by way of the Windward Passage, an 80k wide strait that passes between the two countries.

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Of all the nations in the Western Hemisphere none faces greater challenges to improve the lives of its children than Haiti. In addition to its poor development indicators, Haiti is the country most affected by HIV/AIDS outside of sub-Saharan Africa, which aggravates the well-being of children whose health is already compromised by poverty and inadequate access to basic health care.

Numbers at a Glance

* Average life expectancy in Haiti is 52 years. 

* Under-5 mortality rate is 120 per 1,000 live births.

* Some 3.8 percent of the population is believed to be HIV positive, among them 17,000 children.

* Some 500,000 girls and boys are out of school and some 300,000 children live in domestic servitude  (statistics from WHO - the World Health Organization)

Map of Haiti

Haiti's lowest elevation is at sea level (the Caribbean Sea), while its highest point is Pic la Selle at 2,680 m.

ILe La Vache (also expressed Le-Vaches) (Cow Island) is a small island lying off the south-west peninsula of Haiti near the town of Les Cayes.

Administratively it is part of the Sud Department. It is about 8 miles (13 km) long, 2 miles (3.2 km) wide, with an area of 20 square miles (52 km2).  

The western end of Ile La Vache island is up to 150 metres (490 ft) high and rolling with several small swamps in the valleys; while the eastern section is swampy, and has a lagoon with one of the largest mangrove forests in Haiti. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Haiti and it has some of the best island scenery in the Caribbean. The population of the island is somewhere between 10,000-15,000 inhabitants.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  Its citizens rely on an income of $1.80 per day, making it almost impossible to sustain themselves. Haiti is also the most heavily deforested country in our hemisphere. Widespread deforestation has lead to soil erosion, which has consequently made agriculture all but impossible. The topsoil erosion has also caused reefs die-offs making fishing an exercise in futility. Haiti's deforestation has also contributed to poor freshwater quality through stream-bed siltation and loss of forest resources for both housing and fuel wood. Fully three quarters of the monetary resources of the Haitian economy are generated outside the country, half through direct aid, and one quarter from expatriate Haitians sending money to their families.

The beautiful island of Ile A Vache, off Haiti's southwest coast is not exempt from these challenges. Fortunately its population of 14 000 was spared the outward effects of the earthquake which devastated the center of the country on January 11, 2010. They suffered secondary effects however, such as overpopulation due to refugees, which stressed the already weak supplies of food and shelter. As a result of the earthquake, aid that had previously flowed to the citizens of Ile A Vache was redirected to to the earthquake victims. This has left the residents of Ile A Vache with incomes and resources substantially below their previous $1.80 a day levels, but with additional problems to deal with such as drought, cholera, $6/ gallon gasoline to reach the mainland, reduced remittances from the city, etc.

In 2011 The Good Samaritan School was opened, providing free education and nutrition to children whose families cannot afford school fees at other local schools. We now serve 260 children, and hope to be enlarging the school building in the future. Graduation results are improving, and the teachers and staff undergo extra training and earn reliable salaries that stay in the community.

Through direct aid and economic development from the Good Samaritan Foundation, the people of Ile A Vache now have the opportunity to raise themselves out of the cycle of poverty. With our Micro Credit Program, the Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti is seeking to develop commerce. Small loans are given for a short period of time thus generating enough capital to start small businesses.  We hope to increase the loan amounts,  to change the lives of entire families and eventually the local economy. Currently we have 300 members, 270 are women with the remaining 30 being fishermen and boat-owners.

Our Sewing program has taught several groups of ladies and teenagers to hand and machine sew, embroider and make clothing, over the last three years, and continues as afternoon classes. We have distributed sewing machines to a number of small businesses and a local sewing school this year.  It is hoped that the ladies will develop small businesses, initially making clothing and school uniforms for local consumption, and later producing goods for export and tourism.

By developing and supporting vocational educational programs in the fields of nursing, agronomy, teaching, and skilled trades (mechanics, electricity, masonry, welding, plumbing etc.) for candidates from the community, we hope to make new areas of trade available, and improve health and living conditions at the same time.

Through our Dental Hygiene and Education Program Good Samaritan Foundation tries to provide new toothbrushes and toothpaste to each child who attends school on a regular basis. At least twice a year demonstrations are given in proper dental care and brushing. We partner with dental clinics whenever possible to visit the island.

This year we held several extra courses: a full month of teacher training in July, a beekeeping course for 14 which is ongoing, drawing and painting classes, a new masonry course, and next, a swimming course so that everyone has the opportunity to learn to swim or at least float for safety!

These programs are just the beginning! Through your generosity and on-going support what we do will truly make a DIFFERENCE in the lives of so many. Contact us today and ask how YOU can make a difference too! Please see our school page, our agriculture program page, and our blog for regular news. We're on Facebook and that is updated every week!


The Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti is committed to the advance of education, health and welfare of the underprivileged children of Haiti. The Good Samaritan Foundation of Haiti does not discriminate on the basis of age, sex, race or national or religious affiliation.

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Dedicated to the education, health and welfare of the underprivileged children of Ile La Vache, Haiti
Last Updated on: September 18, 2016


Mandy Thody