The needs of Haiti have always been on full display, but rarely more than this year. In August, an earthquake struck the country’s southern peninsula, killing more than 2,000 people. In the capital city, neighborhoods are plagued by gang violence, and the republic at large struggles under a power vacuum left by the assassination of the president. The needs are also evident on the migration routes carved by those seeking something better for themselves and their families.
Ten years ago, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation made Haiti one of its six priority places. We began to establish partnerships with several local organizations operating in 11 communities in the southwest and the central area of the country. We saw in those communities both need and potential. We made a commitment to partner with them for at least a generation. We support their development in the areas of education, family economic security and health equity. This is not short-term work, but work that requires sustained partnership with those on the ground to shape a future where children thrive.
We continue to see great potential, and we are not backing off. This year we are betting on some big initiatives in Haiti. They are Haitian-led, collaborative, carefully planned and potentially transformative. We call them ‘Pockets of Hope,’ and we look forward lifting up these inspiring efforts in the months to come.
Our partners on the ground are steadily working to build a country whose citizens don’t feel compelled to travel thousands of miles to find a decent job, education or medical treatment. These organizations are training and employing health professionals, providing quality perinatal care, helping hundreds of schools become safe and constructive learning environments, and working with networks of farmers to expand supply chains – boosting family livelihoods while meeting the nutritional needs of vulnerable children.
Much of the hardship faced by Haitians today is a result of actions taken over hundreds of years by public and private interests in other countries, including the United States. The U.S. shares a responsibility to mitigate historic wrongs and support its oldest neighbor. Haitians, wherever in the world they are living or passing through, deserve the utmost respect and recognition of their humanity. All people – regardless of their citizenship status – deserve our affirmation of their experiences and their journeys.
Our work in Haiti, as elsewhere, will continue to be independent of any foreign policy interests, while beholden to the children and families whom it is our mission to serve. When we partner with local leaders and communities, we can help Haiti become a place where children thrive. That’s why we are reaffirming our commitment to Haiti, and we invite others to join us in helping our neighbors realize their greatest potential.