Haiti & Us
Haiti is a beautiful island with incredible beaches, breathtaking crystal blue waters, gorgeous mountains, and delicious food! Haiti is also a country with a history of freedom as it was the world's first independent black-led republic. However, what really makes Haiti such a beautiful place, is its people. Haitians are known to be very hospitable and also extremely resilient. Time after time, crisis after crisis, we have seen the Haitian people rise to the challenge. Their grace and determination are awe-inspiring.
But this is not what we hear about when we research Haiti. That is because Haiti, even with everything we just talked about, is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, plagued with problems. Why you may ask? Sadly, it cannot be pinpointed to just one or two issues. (If you have the time to read about Haiti and its history of struggles, I highly recommend reading this article.) In its 217 years as a sovereign nation, Haiti has faced multiple challenges. Everything from natural disasters, to a crippling economy, a corrupt government, historical deforestation, food insecurity, overpopulation, lack of sanitation, and lack of adequate education, just to name a few.
To have a better understanding of the struggles this country faces, here are a few statistics:
-100,000 children under the age of 5 are malnourished
-30% of the population does not have ample access to nourishing food
-1 in 2 Haitians use unsanitary water, a leading cause of many diseases
-According to World Bank 2017
-59% of the population lives under the poverty line (under $2 per day)
-24% live in a situation of extreme poverty (under $1.25 per day)
-Literacy rate is about 61% (64.3 for males and 57.3 for females)- way below the 90% average for Latin America & Caribbean countries
-As of July 2021, Haiti has not vaccinated a single person against COVID-19, making it the only country in the western hemisphere to not do so.
The situation in Haiti is extremely heartbreaking. However, since the 1990’s, Haitian artists have been working with It's Cactus through Fair Trade: artists who are not looking for a handout, but an opportunity to work hard, provide for their families, and succeed. At It's Cactus the idea has always been that, through trade, prosperity would be sustainable, not just for a moment, a day, a week, or a month, but for a lifetime and generations to come. Over the years, we have forged bonds of trust and mutual respect while working with over 100 artists and sending an average of $29K to the workshops of Croix-des-Bouquets in advance for orders every month for over two decades.
As time has passed, we have seen how our efforts have really paid off. It may not make a difference for all of Haiti, but it makes a difference for the artists we work with and their communities. Many of our artists have been able to make a career for themselves thanks to talent and Fair Trade. They are able to provide for themselves and their families, send their kids to school and even business school, and give jobs to others in the community. One of the things that we are most proud of is that these business partnerships have turned into lifelong friendships.
All of this has only been made possible through the continuous support of all of you. Every single one of your purchases has a direct impact on the artist, their families, and their communities. As Bastien Jean Ricardo, one of our artists, says, "Thanks to everyone who likes my work. Please try to make me busy."
Click on the pictures below to see some of the artists we have the honor of working with and read their story and their bio!