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Ile A Vache Haiti

Ile a Vache (pronounced eel-a-vash) meaning Cow Island, is a small island lying off the south-west peninsula of Haiti near the town of Les Cayes

Of all the nations in the Western Hemisphere none faces greater challenges than Haiti

Numbers at a Glance

* Average life expectancy in Haiti is 64 years (up from 49!!!).

* Under-5 mortality rate is 59 per 1,000 live births (down from 120) - compare to 5.6 in the USA.

* 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)

*The HIV/AIDS rate has declined to 2.1% as of 2016.

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

 Ile a Vache (trans. 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 a Vache is up to 150 metres (490 ft) high hills, 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 The population of the island is around 15,000 inhabitants.

Hispaniola, consisting of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, is separated from Cuba by way of the Windward Passage, an 80km wide strait that passes between the two countries. Jamaica also lies 80km to the SW.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  Many of its citizens exist on an income of under $2 per day, (GDP US$729.30), making it almost impossible to sustain themselves. 

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Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Haiti is also the most heavily deforested country in our hemisphere. Widespread deforestation has lead to soil erosion, which has consequently made agriculture sub-productive. Topsoil erosion has also caused reef die-offs making fishing uneconomic, though overfishing continues out of desperation. 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.

Ile A Vache is not exempt from these challenges. Fortunately its population of 15 000 was spared the most major effects of the earthquake which devastated much of the country on January 11, 2010. They suffered secondary effects however, such as hosting refugees, which stressed the already weak supplies of food and shelter. At this time, aid that had previously been available to Ile A Vache was redirected to the earthquake victims. This 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 could not afford school fees at other local schools. We now serve 270 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 regular salaries that stay in the community.

Through direct aid and economic development from the Good Samaritan Foundation, many people on Ile a Vache 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 one year period, thus generating enough capital to start small businesses.  We gradually increase loan amounts, to change the lives of entire families and eventually the local economy. Currently we have approx. 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.  The ladies have developed small businesses, initially making clothing and school uniforms for local consumption, and it is hoped that they will later produce 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 skills, and hence services and jobs, 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.

Every year we hold several extra courses: teacher training in July, drawing and painting classes, masonry, and now, a swimming program so that everyone has the opportunity to learn to swim or at least float, essential for life on a small remote island! 

These programs are just the beginning! Through your generosity and on-going support, what we do  truly makes a DIFFERENCE in the lives of so many. We currently help over 6000 people directly each year. Contact us today and ask how YOU can make a difference too! Please see our school pages, our agriculture program page, and our blog for regular news. We're on Facebook too!