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Port-au-Prince is inhabited by circa 3 million people; nearly half of them are children. Access to healthcare services is restricted, and the local healthcare system ineffective. 80% of the population of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, are living below the poverty line and circa 60% in extreme poverty. Here, people struggle hard for survival every day. Children are undernourished and food is poor in vitamins; vitamin C deficiency is particularly high. Due to the limited access to clean water and the environmental contamination, contagious diseases and infections are spreading, including typhus and malaria. Since the earthquake of 2010, the population of Haiti has been decimated by cholera, which did not occur in the island before.
Here the action is presented by its ambassador, Michał Cessanis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ySYF_zLsPs
Ryszard Kapuściński wrote, “Man can be deprived not because they did not eat anything, but because they are disrespected, neglected, despised. Poverty is a social and mental condition that causes man to fail to see any way out of the situation they found themselves in. ” This is exactly the impression one can get when talking to the inhabitants of Haiti. Living in extreme poverty induces violence and high rate of crime even though year after year Haiti is a more and more secure place.
In this reality, in Cite Soleil, the most impoverished district of the capital of Haiti, the SAKALA centre emerges like a green island. From the streets piled with tonnes of rubbish, we enter a place where children find shelter. This place does not only offer food and education but also gives them hope and trust in a better future; it shows an alternative. The centre is run by volunteers, people who were born and raised in this place, who show the way with their own lives. SAKALA focuses on education and vocational trainings, but also on sport, which helps educate the future leaders and shape the attendees’ characters. Having spent several hours in the centre together with the children, we feel like staying here for good, not going away anywhere. Thanks to the collected founds that will be entirely allocated to cover the needs of the centre, we will purchase some food and sports equipment.