Haiti

From 2009 to 2015, Libraries Without Borders helped strengthen the library network in Haiti, safeguard cultural heritage and enabled access to information and culture for the populations displaced by the 2010 earthquake. LWB began developing the Ideas Box following its experience with IDPs in that Caribbean nation.

Background

The impact of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on January 12, 2010 affected Haiti’s capital and nearby towns and killed up to 230,000 people. Damages and losses were evaluated at around US$8 billion or 120 percent of GDP. This catastrophe added stress to an already fragile socio-economic situation in the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. The situation of libraries, cultural center and the book chain did not fare any better. Already before the earthquake, the offer of public, academic and university reading was limited in Haiti. The drama of January 12 ended to weaken the few access points to books and reading that existed in the capital.

Our approach

Present in Haiti before the 2010 earthquake, Libraries Without Borders originally began working with local authorities and international organizations to expand the library network in Haiti through the construction of 200 libraries throughout the country. The earthquake shifted LWB’s mission to enabling access to libraries for displaced populations in and around the capital, Port-au-Prince, especially through the development of both fixed and mobile libraries such as the Boite à histoires and, later on, the BiblioTapTap bus. From its experience working with displaced populations, LWB began developing the Ideas Box concept.

More about our actions in Haiti


Story Boxes – library kits for children affected by the 2010 earthquake

Objective

Emergency & post-conflict situations


Start date

2011


Status

Closed


BACKGROUND

After Haiti’s tragic earthquake, more than a million people took shelter in tents at refugee camps in the metropolitan center of Port-au-Prince. The education of children has gradually resumed in the refugee camps and it quickly became essential to offer these refugee children the necessary supplies to help them in their schooling. In addition, the resumption of these structured activities has helped Haitians cope with their grieving.

It was under these circumstances that UNICEF called upon LWB to design and create 300 library kits known as “Story Boxes” to be deployed in the camps in the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince. Each kit consisted of a trunk of 100 books in French and Haitian Creole, accompanied by activity equipment and an activities guide, combining both educational and recreational activities for children.

OBJECTIVES

The primary objective of these mobile libraries was to facilitate literacy and to allow the children access to reading activities. These Story Boxes offered cultural and educational activities designed to help kids discover the concept of “pleasure reading” and overcome the traumatic experiences they had from the earthquake.

BENEFICIARIES

Children living in the 300 UNICEF-installed camp playgrounds in areas affected by the earthquake

WITH SUPPORT FROM

Financial partners

Executive partners

A library for the visually impaired in Haiti

Objective

Access to education & culture


Start date

2013


Status

Closed


BACKGROUND

Haiti has 80,000 visually impaired people, of which 15,000 are totally blind. Despite the constitutional recognition of the rights of people with disabilities in work, health, and education in 1987, much remains to be done to improve their living conditions and their integration into society (lack of specialized institutions, insufficient financial aid, social exclusion, inadequate means of transport). These needs have become even more significant since the January 2010 earthquake, which resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of people suffering from visual impairment.

With the creation of the Roger Dorsinville Library for the visually impaired in Port-au-Prince, LWB and its partners provided a space for consultation and a collection of audiobooks, which represents a significant progress in the integration and inclusion of visually impaired people in the cultural sphere.

OBJECTIVES

  • to act in the favor of the integration of visually impaired people in the cultural sphere;
  • to record new audio books from the Haitian literary heritage in both French and Creole;
  • to promote access to culture through partnerships with Haitian radio stations to disseminate works over the airwaves and thus reach non-literate populations and those without access to libraries.

BENEFICIARIES

The visually impaired community in the capital, Port-au-Prince

WITH SUPPORT FROM

Financial partners

Executive partners

The first digital university library in Haiti

Objective

Access to education & culture


Start date

2011


Status

Closed


BACKGROUND

While 11 of the 12 libraries of the State University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince were seriously damaged during the 12th January 2010 earthquake and remained inaccessible for years after the catastrophe, an academic digital library opened in the meantime. This new 100 square meter building, located right in the center of the city, within the UEH Science department, was constructed to withstand both seismic and cyclonic activities. It offers to students, researchers and professors 80 computers equipped with broadband Internet access.

Thanks to the support of the University of French West Indies and Guiana and 20 online editors’ partners, millions of worldwide excellent academic resources will be available online to the 15,000 UEH’s students as well as the university staff, including e-books, joint publications and academic periodicals. The digital library will also support documentary research training as well as the development of new technologies of information and communication within the university

ACTIONS

  • Construction of the 100m2 building that will house the digital library
  • Equiping the library with computers and setting up an Internet connection
  • Training over 80 librarians from the State University of Haiti

OBJECTIVES

  • Allow Haitian students, professors and researchers to have access to quality documentary resources through the digital library.

BENEFICIARIES

The 15,000 UEH’s students, researchers and professors

WITH SUPPORT FROM

Financial partners

Executive partners

BiblioTaptaps: book mobiles for Haiti

Objective

Access to education & culture


Start date

2012


Status

Closed


BACKGROUND

The earthquake that hit Haiti in January 2010 damaged many of the libraries in the metropolitan zone of the capital Port-au-Prince and made them inaccessible to the public. Outside of the capital, the availability of cultural spaces and access to information is structurally weak and has experienced significant pressure following the earthquake with the influx of people who left Port-au-Prince.

In order to bring access to culture and reading to these hard-to-reach and underserved locations, Libraries Without Borders and its partners launched three Haitian bookmobiles, the BiblioTaptaps, starting in July 2012.  The BiblioTaptaps borrow their name from Haiti’s taptap’s—the term used for the local shared taxis— commonly found on Haiti’s roads and who have become a mainstay of Haitian culture. At every stop, the Taptap’s two facilitators (one for adults and one for kids) organized a wide variety of group activities (public readings, debates, workshops, etc.) and allow beneficiaries to borrow books and enjoy personal reading time.

ACTIVITIES

  • Construction and customization of 3 BiblioTaptaps covering Port-au-Prince, the North and the Center Departments.
  • Creation of a book collection for the BiblioTaptaps
  • Training BiblioTaptap personnel to cultural facilitation

OBJECTIVES

  • To promote access to culture, education and information for remote populations who lack access to books and libraries
  • To accompany the decentralization of basic public services in a country where everything is concentrated around the capital.

BENEFICIARIES

500 children and adults per month from hard to reach zones in Haiti

WITH SUPPORT FROM

Financial partners

Executive partners

Libraries for displaced people camps in Haiti

Objective

Emergency & post-conflict situations


Start date

2010


Status

Closed


BACKGROUND

After Haiti’s tragic earthquake, more than a million people took shelter in tents in camps in the metropolitan center of Port-au-Prince. The earthquake damaged many of the libraries and other cultural venues in the metropolitan zone of the capital Port-au-Prince and made them inaccessible to the public.

While most efforts by non-profits and the international community concentrated on reconstruction and providing much needed basic aid (food, water, medicines, shelter), we realized that nothing was being done to adress the lack of access to information, culture and education in the post-emergency context. As a result, Libraries Without Borders began building tent libraries in camps set up around Port-au-Prince.

ACTIVITIES

  • Construction of libraries in the internally displaced camps
  • Equipping libraries with books and other material
  • Facilitating access to the libraries, hosting activities

OBJECTIVES

  • To promote access to culture, reading and information for displaced populations
  • To strengthen resilience and fight against trauma and boredom in the camps

BENEFICIARIES

79,000 children and adults in 17 internally displaced people camps around Port-au-Prince

WITH SUPPORT FROM

Financial partners

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