This Is What Haiti Is Really Like

The real Haiti is so much more than the headlines would have you believe.

On a Tuesday afternoon in Tete Source, Haiti, teacher Macline and six girls have turned a classroom at the local school into an art studio. Spread in front of the group are strips of cardboard — some saved from their own houses — that have been cut and will be carefully wrapped around thin, wooden dowels to make beads. With each necklace, bracelet, and Christmas ornament the students make and sell, they're learning not only basic entrepreneurial skills but a sense of resourcefulness that permeates the Haitian culture.

When headlines about Haiti are limited to containing  words like "poverty" or "earthquake," the real strengths of the Caribbean nation are overlooked. A study released in 2009 found that the most common word used to describe Haiti in five major U.S. newspapers was "violence," followed by "crisis" and "chaos." Macline is one of the many people we met on a recent media trip to the country with Hope for Haiti who prove that Haiti is so much more than a typical news cycle would lead us to believe. 

Behind those headlines are people: bakers who have built ovens in their backyards and become the village's source of bread, cooks who have opened their own restaurants and started bottling their own hot sauce, and kindergarten teachers who have turned old cardboard into a social enterprise.  

Like all countries, Haiti is not without its issues. But when a country is portrayed exclusively through the lens of the issues it faces, we lose the chance to get to know the people who really are the heart of a place. 

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