It was a cool brisk morning in Petionville, Haiti when we left the Best Western hotel to go to a radio studio to be interviewed. Chef Alain Lemaire and I were in the hotel shuttle bus preparing to talk about an upcoming food festival that Alain was cooking at and I was photographing. It was my first "solo" trip to Haiti without my husband. It felt weird, but also empowering.
The interview was going pretty well until the popular talk show host started speaking to me in Creole. I froze. I started sweating and panicking because my Creole was not good enough to speak on a Haitian radio station. I kindly told him that I was more comfortable speaking English for the interview and he pretty much said, how can you have a website about Haiti and not even speak Creole? I was mortified, but we continued the interview which was also broadcasted in the US. In the end, it went well and I was happy I did it.
Although I was embarrassed about what had happened, I didn't let it stop me from continuing to spread the word about The Real Haiti. From then on, I made it my business to continue to learn as much as I could about Haiti even if I didn't know or speak Creole perfectly.
Since then, I created The Real Haiti Academy, the first and only digital site with Haitian cultural lessons and activities for kids. I did years or research, collaboration and executing ideas to make sure I was providing something that was not available....
The interest sparked when my husband and I started having kids. I didn't want to be stuck in a spot where I "couldn't talk or teach about Haiti because I didn't speak Creole perfectly" with our boys. In order to teach them about Haiti and introduce them to the Creole language, I started creating worksheets, coloring pages and activities about Haiti and the Haitian culture. Truth is, I created them myself because it was impossible to find any online!
Sticking to our original mission of bringing light to the amazing culture, places and people of Haiti, I am thrilled to be connected and happy that you've found us by downloading the freebie worksheets.
If you like the freebie worksheets, I promise you will LOVE The Real Haiti Academy. It truly is a one-of-a-kind platform that has endless amounts of multimedia materials to learn about Haiti. You won't find this unique information anywhere else....and it's easy....all in one place!
P.S. You don't need to speak Creole to use it. Everything is in English and Creole.
The Real Haiti Kids is an online portal for parents and teachers to access information about Haiti and the Haitian culture. Sure, you could spend hours and hours searching for kid-friendly information about Haiti (trust me, I've been doing this for years) and you will find some with lots of digging. However, the information either outdated, terrible quality, in 5 million different places or about an orphan or earthquake survivor. There's so much more to Haiti and Haitian culture than devastation and feeling like we need to save Haiti.
We provide quality resources for parents and teachers to use to teach kids about Haiti and Haitian culture.
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I hope you enjoy these activities with your children or students. There will be a variety of resources to come. To make sure you stay connected, you can subscribe to the blog in the footer.
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BLOG POST: TAKE A TOUR OF OUR HAITI INSPIRED PLAYROOM
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In 2010, husband and wife team, Endy and Diana, started The Real Haiti travel blog to show the world the other side of Haiti through their experiences. Now parents of 2 young boys, the couple has expanded The Real Haiti to include teaching resources on Haiti and the Haitian culture.
We are a husband and wife team who live in Florida with our two boys. We started traveling to Haiti regularly over a decade ago and The Real Haiti blog was born in 2012. We were selected as winners of the former Minister of Tourism's rebranding contest with the slogan, "Experience It" or "Se La Pou'w La!" We were given a plaque by former President Michel Martelly and attended a special ceremony to launch the official logo and slogan.
The mission of The Real Haiti has always been to educate others about Haiti and all of the amazing things that she has to offer. Because the news generally focuses on the negative, we were motivated to start sharing encouraging pictures, videos, stories and memories about Haiti. While we still share the beauty of Haiti, The Real Haiti has become much more than sharing pretty pictures.
The Real Haiti has become the missing link between you and Haiti. We are industry leaders in connecting you to people, places and things in Haiti! Need a photographer in Haiti for hire? Don't know where to start in planning a trip to Haiti? Not sure how to ethically import goods for your business? We can help!
Who is The Real Haiti for?
We are so passionate about sharing the Haitian culture with you. Let's work together to show the world The Real Haiti!
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.
The Importance of an Education in Haiti
I have yet to meet a Haitian that doesn't think school is important. School is a top priority among Haitian parents and families. No matter how poor or wealthy, everyone values education in Haiti. Despite what you may read or hear in the news, the majority of Haitian children go to school. Parents will do everything that they can to make sure their child gets an education no matter what. Their determination is one of those things that fascinates me most about the Haitian culture.
Just like we do in the United States, parents and students in Haiti prepare to go back to school in the same ways as us. Because I've never attended school in Haiti, I can't express my experiences on that. So, I asked a friend of mine, Fedno Lubin, who is a student in Jacmel, Haiti. Fedno is also a photographer who I hire occasionally to capture The Real Haiti. *All photos on this post are by Fedno Lubin*
About Schools in Haiti
Haitian students primarily go to private schools, which means there's tuition fees or there are tuition waiver programs available to some. Here's a breakdown of how the education system in Haiti works: (research info below provided by classbase.com)
Common grading scales:
80.00 - 100.00 or 8.00 - 10.00 Très Bien (Very Good) US - A
70.00 - 79.99 or 7.00 - 7.99 Bien (Good) US - B
60.00 - 69.99 or 6.00 - 6.99 Assez bien (Satisfactory) US - C
50.00 - 59.99 or 5.00 - 5.99 Passable (Sufficient) US - D
0.00 - 49.99 or 1.00 - 4.99 Mal (Fail) US - F
According to the Ministry of Education in Haiti, the official school calendar has September 4 as the start day for back to school.
What are your favorite memories of 'back to school' in Haiti or somewhere else! Share it with us below in the comments.
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!
Join us for the 3rd Annual cultural and food event Taste of Haiti showcasing everything Haitian in the heart of North Miami! An entire afternoon filled with family friendly activities! Come enjoy great food, music, arts and crafts!
Taste of Haiti website
VENDORS: Click here for the application
Don't miss the Madame Gougousse chef cook-off!