In the Haitian culture, depression is viewed as a taboo topic. Some believe depression is made up or an exaggeration of negative feelings. Many think that "Haitians aren't depressed" or "depression is not a Haitian problem."
Depression and Stigma in The Haitian Culture
Depression is by definition associated with social dysfunction and major personal suffering, and globally linked to precarious socio-political and economic conditions.
In Haiti, there is a distinction between "depression" to mean discouragement and "mental depression" as understood by Western psychiatry. Depression places a heavy psychological burden on the patient's caregivers and the patient himself, and can be associated with shame in the face of community support, due to the stigma surrounding it. When an individual experiences repeated psychotic episodes and their functioning is disrupted, they can be characterized as insane and considered to be definitely dysfunctional. His cognitive ability and judgment may never be reliable again, even after a long period of remission.
The Use of the Term "Moun Fou" in The Haitian Community
The term "Moun Fou" in Haitian context is a ready-made expression, used wrongly and through, or even a lack of language. This is due to the level of education of the population and the absence of a mental health policy in the country. In Haitian culture, an individual with an episode of any neurological disorder (depression, anxiety, or addiction to psychoactive substances) is considered insane. On the other hand, many Haitians qualify as "Moun Fou" often by extension, any person having thought or acted clumsily, without the term having anything to do with a pathology. It is important to understand the context of the term "Moun Fou" in Haitian society.
Postpartum Depression in Haitian Women
A couple of years ago, I was curious about postpartum depression in Haitians so I asked someone who works with pregnant women through the non-profit organization Midwives For Haiti.
Q: Can you tell me about the prevalence of depression in Haitian women during pregnancy and post partum?
A: "It is not in our screening process at the pre-postnatal screenings in Haiti- largely because we have no one to refer them to to get help and medications are not available or difficult to get for treatment. And we have no research about this.
Personally, my guess is that it is a huge problem because mothers have so little, have to work so hard to just have food and water for themselves, are worried all the time about their children dying, have already lost children, etc.
We are about to do the class on PP depression/anxiety and will ask the students what they know about it. We know of Haitian women who are depressed because of their behavior. Recently a midwife had a baby with cleft palate that died about a week later of aspiration and she just laid on her bed for months. Finally went back to work after 3 months but not because she was ready."
The Importance of Mental Health Across The Island of Haiti
Nowadays, there is an increase in mental disorders in Haiti. The country lacks a planned mental health policy according to the needs of the population, especially at a troubling time when poverty, instability and insecurity have reached their peak. Moreover, the budget allocated to mental health represents less than 1% of the overall budget reserved for public health.
Mental health is extremely neglected and ignored by the authorities when it should be the most representative in the fight to protect citizens and help them maintain full mental well-being, because according to WHO forecasts, neurological disorders are the second leading cause of death in the world.
A friend of The Real Haiti Marie Valsaint, Founder and CEO of Haitians Thrive, provided us with a Development and Validation of a Haitian Creole Screening Instrument for Depression by Andrew Rasmussen, et. al. This document is useful to those trying to identify, diagnosis and treat mental illness, especially depression in the Haitian community.
Do you have any research on depression in the Haitian culture that you'd love to share? Please let us know and we'd love to support you and our community.
Haitian sweet treats are not only delicious, they are beautifully crafted with rich historical meaning behind them. With it's popularity in Haiti and abroad, many love the Haitian fudge candy dous makòs. If you've been lucky enough to taste the delicious Haitian dessert "dous makòs", I bet you haven't thought about how this magic formula originated. Typically, we don't think about the stories behind food, but they are so important, especially in the Haitian culture for preserving the authentic gastronomy.
Today we will explore together one of the tastiest Haitian products, the "dous makòs".
The Origin Of Dous Makòs
This rectangular-shaped multicolored candy, made mainly from milk and sugar, is part of the food heritage and marks the identity of the city of Petit-Goâve. "Dous makòs" is a specialty of the city of Faustin Soulouque (Emperor of the Republic of Haiti between 1847 and 1859, under the name of Faustin 1st), this commune, located 68 km south of Port-au-Prince, in the western department. The natives of Petit-Goâve attach so much importance to their product that even a carnaval celebration bears its name "Kanaval Dous Makòs la".
Historical Reference For Dous Makòs
According to what the story tells, the "dous makòs" was created in the 1930s by Mrs. Macoss. This oral history tale turned a corner when in 1939, Mrs. Fernand Labarre, an employee in Madame Macoss's factory, took over the activities of her late boss by marketing the multicolored candy under the name "La Douce de Madame Macoss" hence the name "Dous Makòs". In fact, the creation of this fabulous dessert is attributed to Mrs. Macoss.
Dous Makòs Ingredients And Recipe
The formula has been carefully learned and transmitted over the years by the Labarre family; they consider it a family recipe. The candy fudge can be found for sale in all areas of Haiti. It's a staple item to bring as gifts to family and friends, especially when visiting from Haiti.
There are three types of "dous makòs" depending on the milk used for a rich range of flavor such as chocolate etc. This candy is striped with five color layers, two of which are pink and brown. It is generally pink in color, this color is obtained by diluting pink cochineal powder in ordinary alcohol or clairin (Haitian Creole for drinking alcohol).
Today, even if it is a pioneer in the field, the exclusivity of the dous makòs brand is not attributed to the Labarre family because there are other workshops in Petit-Goâve and in neighboring regions which produce it. The delicious "dous makòs" is one of those products that have made a special place for themselves in Haitian gastronomy.
If you're looking for dous makòs for sale, check out Bon Bon Lakay to purchase online!
Let us know in the comments if you've tried dous makòs and what you thought of it!
Have you ever heard of or tasted Haitian "Konparèt"? This famous succulent candy is rich in vitamin B6 is renowned for its originality. This Haitian treat that looks like a cake and tastes delicious!
Origins of Haitian Treat Konparèt
The "Konparèt" comes from Jérémie, the capital of the department of Grande-Anse in Haiti. This resplendent city, known for its poetry, because it is the city of poets and for the originality of its gastronomy that makes you drool. Speaking of its gastronomy, all Haitians know that "Tonm-Tonm" and "Konparèt" are emblematic figures in the field. In other words, Jérémie is the capital of "Konparèt" in Haiti and the natives are very proud of their products. But what is paradoxical is that they do not really consume it, because the majority of "Konparèt" are exported through other regions of the country and sometimes even abroad. However, many other parts of the country produce "Konparèt", but in terms of quality and quantity, the city of Jérémie is the best producer.
When we talk about this magical product, people wonder what is its recipe is or where the formula comes from. According to legend, the magic formula of "Konparèt'' came from a Martinican who during her stay in Jérémie would have taught Grann Louqui (Grandma Louqi) how to prepare the recipe. And since then, the succulent candy sprung up in Jérémie with the name "Konparèt".
Preparation and Indulgence of Haitian Konparèt
To prepare the "Konparèt", certain ingredients are very important. Flour, milk, cinnamon, banana fig, sugar cane, ginger or even coconut are the essential elements that constitute it. Once all of these ingredients are put together, it will create a paste and after the paste goes in the oven, the "Konparèt" is ready to be consumed. However, it can be consumed in different ways, either with cheese, milk, "Manba" (peanut butter) or even avocado!
Check out this recipe if you're brave enough to make it! Or follow this Pinterest board to save for later.
Let us know in the comments what your favorite Haitian dessert is.
Have you ever tried to ship something to Haiti?
Now is certainly not the time to try or to attempt to arrange logistics in order to get items to Haiti. As I have been following the news and social media accounts, there are many people trying to 'do their part' by organizing activities to collect items that are needed by Haitians and rescue relief workers. In my opinion, it's a 'feel good' activity that is often self-fulfilling and also temporary. The thought is: If I donate _____, I will feel good because _______ many people will benefit. Then I will move on with my life and feel like I made a difference. Let me break it down to those who don't understand Haiti and the challenges that are associated.
In a perfect world, your items would arrive to Haiti and Haitians would get your items in a timely manner and then start using them. In reality, this often never happens because of many logistical issues in getting goods to Haiti. There are professional thieves who stay at the port or even work there that are ready to receive your donated items that they confiscate and never reach those in need. Also, in this particular instance, getting to the south of Haiti in Ley Cayes where the earthquake happened is not easy on a good day. Now add in debris and chaos from the tragic earthquake, country insecurity, foreigners trying to get in on the one-way-in-one-way-out road. I beg you to rethink the way you 'help, donate, organize, collect, etc. for Haiti.
When I didn't know any better yet, I advocated for a small non profit to collect backpacks and school supplies for Haiti. It 'felt good' knowing that the items collected would be distributed to those who needed it. Until they weren't. I asked months after the collection if the items arrived and I was told no, they did not have the funds to ship the items and didn't know how to logistically get them there in a way they could afford it. This is where my experience influenced my philosophy. So what happened to the backpacks and supplies? Did they ever make it? Did they end up donated here in the US instead? The donors will never know. Lesson learned for me....
Find orgs and businesses that you can buy from IN HAITI.
If you want to help and contribute to the relief efforts in Haiti, consider doing it differently. Haiti doesn't need your old tshirts or tennis shoes. If you buy products from Haitian businesses, you're helping them succeed already. Plus, you're not adding to the chaos logistical nightmare. Here's a short list of orgs and businesses I trust:
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me in the comments.
When I met my husband Endy (then-boyfriend), he would tell me all about Haiti. He would tell me stories about growing up with his siblings, his best friends. He would tell me about the journeys they had to get to school, the funny stories of dressing up in their parents clothes and the soccer games they played on the roof of their house. He would tell me how beautiful "The Real Haiti" was. I mostly just listened, and quietly doubted that a place I always heard was a "third world country," could be beautiful.
What? You're going to Haiti on vacation!?
It took years of convincing to plan a trip to Haiti...7 years actually! Endy planned everything for our 10 day adventure. Although I was excited, my worried mind kept playing questions over in my head like, "what if we can't find water to drink?" and "what if we get TB or yellow fever?" As I type these ridiculous things (that I never actually said out loud), I can't even believe I thought such judgmental things about a place I'd end up falling in love with!
As an innocent Italian-American, red-headed, 28-year-old, I really had no clue what Haiti was really like. I had no clue that visiting Haiti would change my life. As our vacation plans neared, I secretly wanted to back out or hoped for some reason we weren't going to end up going (sad, but true).
The time came and we flew from Florida to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. My life was forever changed and my eyes and heart were opened like they had never been before. For more of an in depth look about what I saw and experienced, read my blog about things I noticed while in Haiti. Before my first trip, my husband encouraged me to start a blog about Haiti to share what we saw. I wasn't fully on board with the idea, but I did. When I was there and then returned home is when I started blogging about all-things-Haitian and really fell in love with the idea of blogging. I embraced the culture and through my experiences, I had to share all of the amazing things that were so new to me.
Since I started The Real Haiti, Endy and I got married and have two little boys now! Although we don't get to travel to Haiti as much anymore (adulting too much), promoting the Haitian culture, food, people and life in Haiti is still my passion! I couldn't find one place online with resources for teaching kids about Haiti and Haitian Creole so I created my own for my boys and am sharing it with you!
The Real Haiti has a kids section (there's also a tab above) where you can find a variety of resources to teach your kids or students about Haiti
What's new with The Real Haiti
After developing a variety of digital resources about Haiti that focus on cultural education and celebration, we evolved into a membership style resource center called The Real Haiti Academy. You can now enjoy the option of a "pay what you can" model starting at $0. You have the option to pay $0, $15, $25, $50 or $99. No matter how much you pay, you will be getting the same access to the membership with all of the digital resources.
As a member of TRHA, you’ll connect with a community of Haiti lovers who are passionate about keeping the Haitian culture alive. Be proud of your (or your family's) heritage. Encourage multicultural diversity as you're raising your children at home and in your community.
Find out exactly what's included in The Real Haiti Academy.
In this time of uncertainty, one thing I am certain about is that I am not in control of anything. God is in control. I have been given a God-given talent and passion to develop this website and these resources. This is how I am sharing with my digital community who has supported The Real Haiti in one way or another.
"My family and I love exploring, learning about and celebrating our Haitian heritage through The Real Haiti Academy. Our 9-month old son loves the songs, videos & virtual field trip - and the resources keep coming. We're looking forward to using more of the resources as he grows. It's even been fun for my husband to have Creole resources (rather than French). Such an awesome tool! - Kara Jeudy
While all of this started as a fear of Haiti, then a love for Haiti, it's now my business and a huge part of my life. I am so grateful for all of you for following my page for all of these years. Lastly, thank you always for your encouragement! Happy anniversary of The Real Haiti blog and business. Mesi anpil!!!
If you're new to The Real Haiti, sign up below to subscribe to the blog!
Blog post updated 7/26/20 - eight year anniversary of The Real Haiti as a business.
Listen below to an amazing podcast interview with Michel and his journey in the clairin (alcohol) business in Haiti.
Export business man in Port-au-Prince who went back to his homeland in Saint-Michel, Haiti to take over his family's business at a clairin distillery - The Spirit of Haiti. If you've ever wondered how this rum is made, check out their production process (with photos!)
This is The Real Haiti. This is why I had a fire lit under me the first time I went to Haiti. And this is why I continue to blog passionately about Haiti and the amazing things happening there. Every day, hardworking people, living life in Haiti...The Real Haiti.
Original podcast story posted here.
Fort Jacques is tucked up and away in the beautiful mountains of Kenscoff near Pétionville and Port-au-Prince. The drive to the historical area is super easy compared to some other rugged locations we've visited. From the top, you can see the bay of Port-au-Prince...what a beautiful view!
There are two forts named after Alexandre in honor of General Alexandre Pétion and Jacques in honor of Jean-Jacques Dessalines. We only visited Fort Jacques, which is restored and kept maintained, however Fort Alexandre (east of Fort Jacques) is not. Every May 18 (Haitian flag day), there's a celebration with music and fun. It's definitely worth the view! Oh, and DO NOT MISS the outdoor griot spot in Kenscoff...it's the best!
Since we have little ones now, I've done something I never thought I'd do - I converted our dining room (which we actually used) to a playroom! Crazy, I know. I am an interior design wannabe with a wannabe minor in decorating.
Our home is full of Haitian art in all different forms like paintings, sculptures, statues, papier mache, woven materials and mosaics. Since I had so much of the Haitian decor already, I figured why not create a Haiti inspired playroom!
First thing first, I had my husband raise the gigantic chandelier so adults would stop bumping their heads on it. Some of the Haitian paintings were already hung so that made the wall decor easy. Check out our unique Haitian paintings for sale here.
These paintings were done by my husband's cousin in Haiti. The one in the green frame was painted on a burlap sak and glued to a hard cardboard material. The frame is actually one that I found in the garbage! It was originally gold and had an ugly horse painting in it. Thankfully the Haitian painting was the exact same size! (fun fact - I love repurposing things and thrifting...it's one of my favorite things to do!)
If you're tired of stepping on legos and tripping over trucks, try dedicating a corner (or a room if you have the space) for the toys to make a playroom or play area. It's nice to have the toys in one area so that we could have our living room back. I have a playroom board on Pinterest where I got my inspiration! Check it out here.
Other Fun Haiti Inspired Things in Our Playroom
Add this short story book to your collection! It was written and designed by me :)
Mermaid Violette is madly in love. Her friends -- a crab, fish, dolphin, jellyfish and shrimp, all wonder who Violette loves so much and can't live without. Read the book to find out who the lucky one is!
The story is written in English. Bonus pages of sea creatures in English and Haitian Creole!
Add these customizable wall art prints to your little one's room or playroom! Designed by me :)
I plan to do more blogs about Haiti inspired rooms and home decor so stay tuned! Thanks for stopping by!
Can you imagine seeing the video promo below on Haiti on TV today? It was 1983 and this video was produced for American Express to promote travel to Haiti! I see more things that have remained the same in Haiti than have changed.
Similarities and differences between Haiti in 1983 and today
What hasn't changed in Haiti since 1983:
What hasn't changed in Haiti since 1983:
After reading through all of these similarities and differences, you must be even more curious about travelling to Haiti! I promise it will be a trip of a lifetime. Go explore and see The Real Haiti! If you've been to Haiti, drop a comment below on what you noticed that was the same as 1983!
The next Partners Worldwide Train-the-Trainer is Scheduled!
This week-long session consists of walking dedicated individuals through a business curriculum created by Partners Worldwide, covering topics such as: Christian worldview, accounting, marketing, value-chain analysis and other principles essential for successful entrepreneurs. The materials and training are in Haitian Creole.
Why: Have an in-house trainer for your organization (ask for details on how to become a certified trainer; there is an extra cost. Train outside your organization)
Who is eligible for training:
Time: 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Place: Office of Parole et Action, Delmas 75
Option 1 – $650
Training, materials, meals and accommodation at Trinity Lodgefor five days and nights
Option 2 – $350
Training, materials, 5 lunches
Contact Cassandre Honoréat 509 3610 6163 or
email@example.com more information.
Click here to register online.
Registration ends November 24th, 2017.