The national government has no resources to invest on La Gonave. There is little employment; instead, a great, pervailing apathy. Families often face great difficulties fetching even basic supplies from the mainland, yet there are few shops on the island.
Although La Gonave is a tropical island, virtually noone farms the fruit which grows naturally, or plants crops. Little is done to improve the living conditions. Generations-long hardship and the corrosive influence of voodoo have taught the islanders that they can do nothing for themselves and that anything they try will no succeed and just waste precious resources and bring disappointment.
The churches are the key to changing this state of things. Our partners, HCIM, are in the forefront of giving hope and help.
We began our partnership with them by sponsoring some children in the small church-based schools, and by providing goats to needy families, for milk and a livelihood. These programmes met with limited success.
Since the earthquake, La Gonave has seen further devastation from Hurricane Tomas and a limited outbreak of cholera.
WorldShare and HCIM have concentrated on changing attitudes in the community through Community Health Education (CHE) training. This has led to a number of community leaders who now understand that if things are ever going to be different, they must be the ones to bring about change. This training continues.
WorldShare is also helping in creating a new high-quality school, which will provide life skills and working skills which can help to transform the experience of the next generation. The first vocational classes will be in computing and English, with plumbing and electrical engineering to follow.
WorldShare and HCIM is also working to create various small enterprises which can help the families concerned but also introduce a work ethic and an employment-related economy to the island.
La Gonave's population is around 100,000, which can be supplemented by up to 40,000 people when there is crisis on the mainland. To serve them, La Gonave has just one small clinic. HCIM are looking to bring in medical supplies and medical teams to help this clinic.
Very much remains to be done. The situation on La Gonave is not sustainable into the future. Things must change. Only in Christ can there be the personal change which will bring a change in outlook and activity.