In Haiti and other countries around the world, mental health problems cause significant suffering by decreasing a person’s ability to complete daily tasks, work, learn, and/or build supportive relationships with others. Discussing mental illness in Haiti can be sensitive – but it is a very important and often overlooked aspect of public health.
Hesperian has released a wide variety of free health guides including "Where There is No Doctor" or what Peace Corps volunteers with too much time on their hands to analyze their maladies call "Where There is a Hypochondriac." Their latest guide on understanding and preventing Zika is available in English, Portugese, French, and Haitian Kreyol. The guide is will be updated on a regular basis. More information about Hesperian and ways to support them below.
Mason Robbins is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in the Grande Anse region of Haiti from 1999-2001. He lives in Cary, North Carolina and works as a Regulatory Affairs Specialist for a medical device manufacturer. In his spare time, he wrote a book about his Peace Corps experience in Haiti and will be self-publishing it, with all proceeds going to Haiti-related charitable causes. Below are some initial excerpts. We will post regular updates on the status of his book. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
While there is not an active Peace Corps program in Haiti, the organization continues to make a difference in Haiti through the 507 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who served between 1982-1987, 1990-1991, and 1996-2005. In March, Peace Corps/Friends of Haiti (PCFOH) became the newest “Friends Of” Group to be recognized by the National Peace Corps Association. You don’t have to be an RPCV to get involved! Take a look at our temporary website (we'll improve it as time goes on), join in discussions about Haitian development issues, and feel free to reach out to us with your feedback and ideas.
The Grande Anse (Grandans) is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful regions of Haiti. It is also one of the most isolated. Mason Robbins was a Peace Corps Volunteer in a small village outside of the regional capital of Jeremie. He recently had a chance to spend two weeks in the community where he served. Below is his postcard.
Peace Corps/Haiti was never a very large program. However, Peace Corps Volunteers have long made a difference in Haiti both through the projects we participated in and the relationships we made. Likewise, Haiti made a difference for us, most of all, in the way we view the world. While Peace Corps is no longer active in Haiti, those who served there certainly are. All have been affected by the earthquake and all are taking action in some way. Below is a summary of what Haiti Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) are thinking, feeling, and doing in response. In this way, we both bear witness and re-affirm our commitment to stay connected to Haiti.
Haiti Innovation was founded five years ago by four Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Haiti. We wanted to do this because we felt Haiti had given us more than we were able to give back during our two and a half years of service. This website has been a way for us to repay a debt - to Haitian colleagues, friends, and family who we learned from and have not forgotten. Haitians like to say that their country has teeth - it bites on to you and it doesn't let you go. Haiti has changed, we've changed, and the website has changed. But five years and 527 blogs later, Haiti still hasn't let go.
A recent article in the New York Times took a look at two gyms in Port au Prince - a Gold's Gym in the wealthiest suburb of Port au Prince and one of the home-made gyms which are far more common both in the city and the countryside. The homemade gyms are nothing compared to a Gold's Gym - but they are testament to Haitian creativity and possess a sense of camraderie that you will not find at an establishment that caters to the rich. Exercise can be empowering and as Haitian bodybuilder Julien Mr. Spencer puts it, "You can't buy fitness."