Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Although it’s located a relatively short distance from the United States, this Caribbean nation has widespread hunger and disease. By one estimate, the majority of the population subsists on $2 a day. Although this figure is disputed, no one will argue that many people in Haiti are suffering.
Hunger is a fact of life. Once I heard a missionary priests who’ve worked in Haiti talk about conditions there. He told the story of a young boy who was offered a meal. The boy refused to eat. Instead, he wanted to take the meal with him, explaining that it was his brother’s turn to eat that day.
For many people, food is so hard to come by that some mothers, to ease the pangs of hunger, will feed their children cookies baked from mud.
Gifts Made in Haiti
An estimated two-thirds of Haitians old enough to work do not have steady jobs. Most of Haiti’s GDP is derived by countrymen who live elsewhere, and send money home to their relatives.
However, Haiti is very rich in artistic talent. There are some great products made from recycled steel drums, which have been fashioned into beautiful home decorations. Here is just a small sample of what’s available.
The 2010 Haitian Earthquake
This long-standing poverty, of course, was made all the worse in 2010, when a devastating 7.0 earthquake struck just west of Port-au-Prince, Haitian’s capital city. It’s believed that between 100,000 to 160,000 people died in this quake, which severely damaged about 250,000 homes and 30,000 other structures.
These buildings included The National Palace, where the President of Haiti lived, as well as the Port-au-Prince Cathedral, which you can see below. Port-au-Prince Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot was also killed in the quake.
Nativity Made from Steel Drums
If you look closely at the angel below, on the far left, which is made from a recycled 55-gallon oil barrel, you’ll see an image of the Holy Family. Mary and Joseph are kneeling by the manger, where Baby Jesus is sleeping. I’ve also included other styles of Haitian artwork here that depict the Nativity. As you can see, these artists can make amazing things out of what most of the rest of the world would throw away.
Haitian steel drum sculpture is an art form that’s practiced by a community of artists living in a village in the Croix-des-Bouquets region of the country, just north of Port-au-Prince. Here, there are more than two dozen workshops where these steel sculptures are produced.
In addition to supporting Haitian artists by buying their work, you are also giving new life to recycled materials.
Recycled Steel Metal Gecko
This colorful gecko is also made from recycled steel, and painted in the bright primary colors that have come to characterize Haitian folk art. Geckos are lizards that live in tropical regions throughout the world. There are 1,500 different species of geckos in the world. In some areas, the have moved inside of people’s homes, where they are either welcome or tolerated.
Yellow Frog Made from Steel Drums
These adorable frogs are also made by Haitian artisans, from available materials that would be viewed as trash in many other parts of the world. These are handmade items. So you may see slight variations from what is shown in the picture. Each item is unique.