Progress in paradise: hope growing for a stronger future

World Vision staff member Daryl Crowden recently went to Haiti, where you sponsor a child. We thought you might be interested in what he saw there.

“My second day in Haiti started with a short 20-minute flight in a tiny four-seater airplane across the water from the capital of Port au Prince to Isle de La Gonave. We climbed steadily through the smog to 4,500 feet passing over the top of beautiful, calm turquoise water dotted with small fishing boats. Almost as soon as we reached altitude, the nose of the plane dropped and we began our decent to land on the beach. The lack of airport facilities was an indication of what was to follow.

About 60km off the coast of the main island of Haiti, La Gonave has seen little investment over the years. There is one sealed road, about 250m long, in the main town. The rest of the island’s 200km road system varies between a few metres of nice smooth sand to extreme, rocky, four-wheel drive tracks.

I was headed to one of the villages in the PACODES project. Although only 22km away in distance, it was a bone jarring two hour drive to the community set amongst hills clothed in avocado trees and carved out of limestone.

"When World Vision arrived on La Gonave there were three clinics and one healthcare professional for the island’s population of some 80,000 people. Today we have established and handed over nine clinics to the government and there are 22 healthcare professionals serving the communities throughout the island."

Household incomes have increased because of improved agriculture practices, fishing techniques and vocational training. A practice like charcoal production is now more profitable because people have learned more sustainable ways of harvesting the wood rather than cutting down the entire tree.

"Over the years we have worked together with communities to ensure about 95 per cent of children have access to schools with an increasing percentage of girls staying and completing their education."

A lot has improved but there is still so much more to do. School attendance is high, but the percentage of children that can read and write at an appropriate level for their age is very low.

Despite the difficulties they face, the young men and women were like any other ambitious young people and shared with me their dreams of becoming plumbers, electricians, tailors and IT gurus.

After 12 years in the PACODES community, World Vision Australia are planning and working toward the transition to sustainability and complete community ownership in the next few years.

"Are they ready to continue on their own? Can they do it? When I asked community members, they answered ’of course we can, and, we must. Our families’ futures depend on it.’"

After visiting the program and seeing the changes in the community, I can assure you that you can be proud of what the children and their communities have achieved - lives are being transformed and hope is growing for a stronger future.”