St. Pierre parish, Baradères, Haiti — sister parish of St. John the Baptist Catholic Community, Silver Spring, Md.
Haiti has an infant mortality rate of 71 per 1,000 births. Twenty-eight percent of children under 5 are malnourished. Life expectancy is 53 years. Half the people cannot read and write. But hand in hand with our brothers and sisters in Baradères, we are making a difference for thousands of children and their families.
Baraderès is on the north coast of Haiti's western peninsula, about 100 miles west of Port-au-Prince. Road distance is about 200 miles. Driving takes 7 or more hours.
The map shows approximate route of road travel between Baradères and Port-au-Prince. Click here to view the area within the red rectangle. (NOTE: The map will take about a minute to load over a dial-up Internet connection.)
"From an education and health perspective, life in Haiti looks very grim," said Matt Minahan. Matt was a member of the SJB team that visited Baradères in 2001.
"The infant mortality rate is 71 out of 1000, more than twice the rate for the other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean," Matt said. "Life expectancy is 54 years, compared to 71 for other countries in the region. Twenty-eight percent of the children under 5 are malnourished, and only 28% of the people in the country have access to clean water. The GNP per-capita is $460 per year. Most of us make at least that much in a week, and some of us make that in a day!"
Our relationship is actually with a region of roughly 25 square miles in the northernmost terminus of the road shown on the map. The road ends at the Baradères town square in front of St. Pierre church.
Most Haitian roads are in poor condition, and Baradères only has that one unpaved road connecting it to the world. In the mountains south of town, the road also is steep, stony, eroded, narrow and deeply rutted. It is passable only by high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicles.
St. Pierres parish boundaries comprise the town of Baradères (population 44,000) and 18 small remote rural villages. The parish was founded in 1872, according to Haiti Référence. The church was built in the early 20th century.
Primary occupations in the parish are subsistence farming and sharecroppingon land owned by wealthy people in Port au Prince and Les Cayes, a city about 30 miles south (3 hours' drive).
Physicians from St. John's parish who traveled to Baradères in 1996 made an informal study of malnutrition, and found the rate very high among children in particular.
Baradères has no publically available electricity. A few residents use small generators or solar power. There is a diesel-powered generator that theoretically could provide public power to a few dozen buildings in the town, but the generator doesn't work. Fuel is prohibitively costly.
A few homes in Baradères have running water piped from the single town well installed in 2000. Spigots near the town square provide the only publically available source of this water. Water pre-treatment is rudimentary at best, and there is no waste treatment. Most livestockchiefly chickens and goatsroam freely.
A telephone line was installed in Baradères in 1998, but it has not been functional for years.
Sharecropper income is less than $200 per year. Some farmers, like the man at right, bring wares to sell ormostlybarter at the twice-weekly market in the Baradères square.
Sharecroppers typically have small gardens where they grow some of their own food.
Most of the 18 villages within the parish are accessible only by foot, canoe or donkey. All but one are in steep mountainous areas. The exception, Grand Anse, is a fishing village on the ocean coast of the peninsula across the Bay of Baradères.
The Bay does not support a thriving fishery, probably due to overuse, sedimentation, and pollution. Fishermen in Grand Anse transport most of their ocean catch by boat to sell in Miragoane, about 50 miles east.