What we have to say about our Cite Soleil
Cité Soleil is a normal Haitian community, albeit poor, that the Haitian National Police have chosen not to patrol. If you walk through it's spotless streets and walkways during the day, you will see lots of friendly people and smiling kids playing. But you will also see the termination of Port-au-Prince's drainage canals clogged with waste from higher up in the city. You will see a tight community of families (that love to watch soccer matches), but you will also hear gun violence at night, just like you would any other city in the world without policing action. The people of Cité Soleil are incredibly courageous, faithful, resourceful, and respectful... and they will change your life. Welcome to our City of the Sun.
What others have to say about our Cite Soleil
Cité Soleil (Haitian Creole: Site Solèy; English: Sun City) is an extremely impoverished and densely populated commune ("city") located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area in Haiti. Cité Soleil originally developed as a shanty town and grew to an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 residents, the majority of whom live in extreme poverty.The area is generally regarded as one of the poorest and most dangerous areas of the Western Hemisphere...
The area has virtually no sewers and has a poorly maintained open canal system that serves as its sewage system, few formal businesses but many local commercial activities and enterprises, sporadic but largely free electricity, a few hospitals, and two government school, Lycee Nationale de Cite Soleil, and Ecole Nationale de Cite Soleil. For several years until 2007, the area was ruled by a number of gangs, each controlling their own sectors. But government control was reestablished after a series of operations in early 2007 by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) with the participation of the local population.
Haitian Initiative (www.haitianinitiative.org/page/show/1065045-cite-soleil)
There are 29,000 people per square mile of Cite Soleil, and close to 400,000 people in Cite Soleil overall. Most of the residents of Cite Soleil are unemployed. Some people are able to sell small amounts of produce and other products at street markets. A majority of Cite Soleil residents are children. In Haiti 65% of the population is under the age of 25.
Haiti is one of the poorest nations on earth, and this program takes place in Cite Soleil, which is the poorest neighborhood in Port au Prince, Haiti. The children we work with are sometimes homeless and parentless. They face extreme hunger, gang violence, and high risk of AIDS/HIV. Some children lack access to school, education, and safe places to play sports. Youth in Cite Soleil rarely have the opportunity to just be children.
Helping Haiti (www.helpinghaiti.ca/about/cite-soleil/)
The area encompassed by Cité Soleil is approximately 5 sq. kilometres. Its citizens all live in poverty – most in abject poverty. What is arguably now the Western Hemisphere’s biggest [underdeveloped area], the area was originally developed to house workers of Haiti’s industrial boom, but quickly grew in size as people from across the country flocked here looking for work.
The United States led a boycott of Haitian manufactured products after the coup d’etat in 1991 which sent then President Jean Bertrand Aristide into exile. This boycott effectively led to the complete closure of Cité Soleil’s manufacturing sector – pushing the entire region into unemployment and, subsequently, extreme poverty.
*Banner photo credit: Alice Smeets www.alicesmeets.com