A Supportive Community Rallies Round for Bereaved Family

8th February

As I mentioned yesterday we had sad news of the death of a relatively young employee of one of the RJM schools here in the Jean Rabel area on Monday. His funeral will take place later today and its been heartening to see how the whole community has rallied round the children who have lost their father.

The school community has been particularly helpful along with neighbours helping out where they can.

Typical Haitian Cemetery

Typical Haitian Cemetery

But this is nothing new in Jean Rabel; the community is well known for looking out for people when misfortune occurs, as it does regularly. Despite lack of services in so many areas of life, people survive the most awful circumstances with the help of their friends, neighbours and communities.

This I believe is what keeps life ticking by for so many when tragedy strikes in Jean Rabel; nobody lives alone, there are huge families living in the smallest of houses, and extended family and friends are all around the area. Its like ‘olden’ times in Ireland in that sense, and its good to know that people care for others, despite their own difficulties and daily struggles.

In Jean Rabel, I have seen that people don’t have to suffer alone, there are people nearby who will lend a hand of support when necessary, which is just as well as official support in any form is so very lacking.

Have You Heard of St. Bakhita?

8th February 2017

I hadn’t heard of this saint until yesterday either. But I saw a film of her life last night which tells the story of a young girl, born in the Darfur area of Sudan, and sold into slavery at the age of 9 years.

St. Josephine Bakhita

St. Josephine Bakhita

St. Bakhita is the patron saint of Sudan but also the patron saint of victims of slavery and trafficked persons and today is her feast day.

Today, 8th February has been designated as a Day of Prayer for and Awareness of victims of modern day slavery – human trafficking, which is happening in all parts of our world; it is in fact one of the most lucrative illegal activities the world over, generating 32 billion dollars a year for those pimps and traffickers engaged in its ‘business’ and is now the 2nd most profitable such ‘business’ coming up short only of the illegal drugs trade.

Here are some facts about human trafficking and slavery:

  • Each year 2.5 million people become victims of trafficking and slavery
  • Worldwide today there are 27 million slaves (more than at any time previously and the number is growing at an alarming rate)
  • 40% to 50% of all forced labour victims are under 18 years of age
  • Currently there are two million children throughout the world involved in the commercial sex trade being abused, raped and treated inhumanely
  • Up to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders each year

If we are to tackle this problem each and everyone of us must take action and act against this crime. What do you think?

Statistics taken from the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus website

New President for Haiti

8th February 2017

Jovenel Moise new President of Haiti

Jovenel Moise new President of Haiti

Jovenel Moise was sworn in as the new President of Haiti yesteday at an inauguration ceremony in the grounds of the former national palace in Port-au-Prince.

His inaugural address promised to bring about “real improvements” for the country saying, “We can change Haiti if we work together.”

Coming from the north of the country, many Haitians are hopeful his tenure will bring improvements for areas long-neglected by Haitian authorities such as here in the northwest of the country where Jean Rabel is situated.

As a businessman himself it is also hoped that he will be able to bring more investment and jobs to Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. But there are also many people for whom his tenure means little or nothing in a country already devastated by corruption and injustice.

President Jovenel Moise is himself the subject of an investigation into alleged money laundering and obtaining special treatment when seeking loans while running his business.

Like all those in public office the world over, Mr. Moise of course, has denied the allegations that were leaked during the presidential election campaign, saying all his business dealings have been carried out legally.

This judicial investigation is ongoing with no resolution imminent while President Moise’s government is now looking at a 5-year term in office.

His election campaign and inauguration here in Haiti caused little disturbance or commotion compared to that of President Donald Trump in their neighbouring US but after a full year of having a care-taker government in place it is time for Haiti to move on and if the new President, Jovenel Moise, makes even some small progress, his administration could become the one that signalled change for Haiti and hope for the future for its people.

Death Comes Slowly but Early

7th February 2017

We received sad news yesterday that an employee of one of the 6 schools under Sr. Rose’s authority in Jean Rabel had died in the local hospital.

He was only 52 years of age, but since he was admitted only 2 weeks ago everyone knew he wouldn’t last very long. He was severely ill and death for him must be a release and a relief, he could not have hung on any longer. This man’s wife is already a number of years dead, so she must have been very young when she died. They had a large family (as many do here in Jean Rabel) who are mostly grown up or at least in their teenage years, but what a loss to be left orphaned while still in school.

The average life expectancy in Haiti is a mere 63.8 years (61.2 for men and 66.4 for women). Some of us would describe a person of such an age as being ‘young’ or ‘in their prime’ but for the majority of people in Haiti they might never see their 65th birthday. Only 9% of the total population is over 55 years of age. Over 50% are under 24 years of age and 33% are under 14 years.



30 Bus Passengers Died Within One Week

7th February

Patrick bus

Patrick bus

Within one week during the middle of January up to 30 people lost their lives and many others were injured close to the Jean Rabel area when 2 buses lost control and upturned on their route from Saint Louis de Nord to Port-au-Prince.

During that time consistent rain had left the route badly damaged making driving very dangerous and difficult. This route is one of the National highways in the country but I doubt it has ever been surfaced properly. Its like driving on a dirt track, full of pot-holes, craters, and mounds of mud that wheels simply sink into.

[Read more…]

Mothers and Babies Mortality Rates

7th February 2017

Since my last post I have heard that within the last 2 weeks another baby born at the hospital here in Jean Rabel (Hopital Notre Dame de la Paix) also died as did its mother, during child-birth. This is very sad and serves to illuminate the truth of the situation here in Haiti regarding mothers and babies mortality rates during pregnancy and child-birth which are estimated to be one in every eighty mothers and 59 out of every 1000 babies.

Life is certainly difficult here in Haiti, women suffer terribly but much is simply pushed under the carpet – pardon the pun here as there are no carpets in Haiti for most people – never to be spoken about again!

When a Child is Born

5th February 2017

No incubator just a lamp to keep a new-born warm

No incubator just a lamp to keep a new-born warm

Usually the birth of a child is wonderful news. It signifies hope for the future, a new life, potential, looking forward! But for one of the ladies who works at Sr. Nazareth’s Workshop this was not the case recently when her baby boy died the day after being born.

How sad I felt on hearing the news! I could not comprehend how the mother must be feeling. There was a huge sense of helplessness that no matter what you try to do you cannot bring the baby back.

And in Haiti too many mothers have similar experiences.

The infant mortality rate is high – 59 in every 1000 births – the highest in the Western Hemisphere according to Haiti’s most recent Demographic and Health Survey and maternal mortality during pregnancy and child-birth is estimated to be as high as one in 80 according to the United Nations Population Fund and partner UN agencies.

These statistics give no consolation to this Jean Rabel woman or other expectant or new mothers who must endure such pain of loss. For some it just becomes another addition to all the other difficulties women in Haiti must bear day in and day out.

So why in the 21st century are mortality rates here so high?

Poverty of course plays the major part leading on to poor healthcare infrastructure and lack of access to healthcare. In fact, recent reports suggest that half of the 10 million + population has no access to healthcare at all. And most babies are born without the assistance of trained health personnel.

The major causes of maternal death during pregnancy and child-birth include severe bleeding, sepsis, eclampsia, obstructed labour and unsafe abortion, but in Haiti not enough woman are able to access life-saving interventions such as emergency obstetrics and neo-natal care that are available in some places.

However, in the case of this Jean Rabel Workshop Lady it is difficult to pin-point what went wrong. She managed to get to the local hospital and its midwifery personnel on time. But her baby boy still died the day after birth. He was born pre-maturely and as is common practice with such babies he was placed under a lamp to keep him warm, much like that shown in the photo above. If the hospital had had an incubator for this little boy, I question whether he would still have died.

Obviously, I don’t have the answer to that question, but for me coming from Ireland I feel having an incubator is simply one of the most basic and necessary neo-natal medical items every maternity unit should have in the 21st century. I would like to see the situation here in Jean Rabel’s hospital changed for the better and before too long so other mothers and babies won’t have to suffer such loss of life. So any money I might raise for the rest of my time here, I will put towards getting an incubator for the local hospital.

If you agree this needs to be done please comment and share this post!

See my fundraising efforts on

Thank you


The photo above was taken from http://bit.ly/1zKx6U1  with credit to Jared Chambers

A newborn is warmed under a lamp at a uNFPA-supported maternity centre in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. © Jared Chambers