EXACTLY FIVE YEARS have passed since a massive earthquake ravaged Haiti and its largest city, Port-au-Prince. But Haiti is more than the sum of its natural disasters and political unrest, even if they are the stories of choice for the international media. As the short attention span of the global spotlight has faded, Haiti has been quietly making a comeback.
Freshly-paved roads connect the island once again, permitting commerce within the major cities and across the country. From the north to the south, industrial parks are buzzing with the hum of production, manufacturing everything from clothing to tablets. 150 schools have been built by the Digicel Foundation, and public access to free education is increasing — a rarity in a country where over 80% of children attend small, private schools.
With the help of foreign governments and nonprofits, Haiti has built four new hospitals in major cities, and it’s currently rebuilding the flagship national hospital in Port-au-Prince. Nonprofits are working with the government to offer previously unheard of healthcare services.
I work with two great examples: Project Medishare, which operates a breast cancer treatment program in Port-au-Prince and Haiti Air Ambulance — which runs the first emergency medical helicopter in any of the world’s low-income countries. Political unrest may dominate the headlines coming out of Haiti over the next few weeks (ironic given the United States’ level of political dysfunction), but despite all the negative publicity, Haiti is a country on the mend and ready for tourists in search of adventure, culture, and natural beauty.
Here are 5 must-have experiences in Haiti.