Weird Jobs in Haiti

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Weird Jobs in Haiti

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Haiti is a beautiful country in the Caribbean islands, occupying one third of the Hispaniola. The main city is the capital Port-au-Prince and with a population of ~8.4 million people (as per 2006, the actual figure is around 10 million) and a land surface of 27,750 square kilometers, Haiti brags with a rich culture, some may say even an unique culture, a rare thing in former colonies (Haiti was a French colony until they achieved their independence).

4762778Even if it lays in a paradisiac landscape, Haiti is a country facing many problems, including natural disasters and what not. One of the problems is unemployment.

4762779Haiti is a one of the most straggling country in the Western hemisphere due to various reasons: decades of political instability after achieving independence, which translated into decades of poverty and economic insecurity, violence, coup d’états, dictatorships and what not. All these make for a climate of insecurity, political tension, a degraded environment and lots of criminal lawlessness.

4762777As you can easily imagine, all these things affected the Haitian economy in a significant way, especially when we’re talking about unemployment figures, which are immense, to say the least. Just to get the general idea, while in the US a 10% unemployment rate would make for great concern, in Haiti a 20% rate would make everybody party. Yes, things are that bad.

4762780While the official figure is 40% unemployment rate, the real figure may be even worse. There are estimates that put the actual figure around 70%, because statistics in this part of the world are not very trustworthy, being also very difficult to “enforce”.

4762781Things are so bad in Haiti that foreign aid makes for approximately 40% of the government’s budget, most of the money coming from the US, Canada and the EU. Especially the 2010 earthquake that turned the country into ruins played a big role in degrading even more Haiti’s economy, as it affected 3 million people and killed 160,000 and also transformed over 30,000 commercial buildings into rubble along with a quarter million private residences.

47627824762787With these figures in mind, you can easily imagine that a low paying job in Haiti is actually way better than no job at all. In the capital Port-au-Prince, scrapping a living without a job is actually the rule, not the exception and people are working hard, day after day, just to survive.

47627844762794You can see lots of children and even able-bodied men in the country’s capital dodging the chaotic traffic and wiping down the car’s windshields in the hope of making a few bucks here and there. Also, walking down the streets you’ll see lines of people, both men and women, on the side of the road selling or bartering fried plantains, mangos, fruit juice (in refilled plastic bottles, imagine that!), second hand clothing, electronics, basically anything that can be traded or sold to other folks, just as poor as they are…and these are some of the luckiest Haitians, i.e. folks who have things to sell or barter.4762792

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Just 3 miles north of the capital, you’ll find a huge garbage dump located in a valley, where hundreds of people (men women and children) are swarming the huge heaps of garbage. These are scavengers, looking for valuable materials (fabric, plastic bottles, metals and what not) to collect and sell to recycling plants. Even if they live their lives in a highly toxic and dangerous environment (fumes, poisonous materials and even medical waste), they are making around $15 in a good day, which is good by local standards.

4762838Haiti doesn’t have a social safety net, there’s no unemployment insurance, no healthcare paid by the government and actually no food security (Except for foreign aid, i.e. Red Cross, CARE or the World Food Program).

4762842In this destitute place, having a street cleaner job is considered an achievement where a 4 hour/ day job is rewarded with $2.75. And those who have such a job are considered very lucky, even if the work is hard and filthy.

4762845For the workforce to be competitive in a country with extremely poor infrastructure and unreliable electricity, the labor must stay cheap.

4762848Yes, Haitians are actually a hardworking people, all they require is a little bit of luck and help from the developed countries. And that means that Haitians need investments from the developed nations in order to be pulled out of poverty, they need a long-term economic vision from its politicians , decentralization of the government services in order to avoid bureaucracy, deregulation of essential markets like energy in order to attract foreign investment and long term economic stability.

And that’s not impossible; Haiti has the chance to become a business friendly country due to its relatively numerous and eager work force accepting enthusiastically  low paying jobs and especially thanks to its hard working  people who deserve better.

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