Pierre, 13 years old

Pierre woke up so excited. He quickly finished his chores, tending the bean garden and feeding the mule, so that he could go to school early. It was his tenth birthday. His very special gift was a football (in America it’s a soccer ball). He would take it to school to play with his friends…

Welcome to Helping Hugs, Inc.

“Established to Create a Change.”

Helping Hugs, Inc. is an all volunteer Non-Profit dedicated to improving the lives of the people in Cotes-de-Fer, haiti and the surrounding mountain communities. Over 95% of the money received goes directly to projects in Haiti to enable them to become self-sustaining. Our mission, vision and goals can be found on our About Us page.

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The ability to accomplish our projects is a direct result of the support we receive from wonderful people and businesses in our community and throughout the US. When you scroll down just a little further you will see our focus areas. We think you will find our accomplishments and plans for the future inspiring. Please explore our website and join our effort to make a difference in the lives of many Haitian children and parents.

Focus Areas

Education

Faustin and Celeste are excited and ready for their school day. Meme Claudine, their grandmother, made a special breakfast. The Labouyi ( a kind of porridge) was made sweet with sugar and cinnamon . It was such a treat. Off they go. Ready to learn .

Water

Today life changes for the people of Morne Blanc.  A well has been drilled in the community and neighbors gather to be among the first to try it…

Healthcare

Do you know that something as simple as taking blood pressure can save lives? Find out how our medical team has been doing just that in…

Tree Currency

As Andre and his friends look across the field he again has the dream that occurs every year at this time. What is that dream and why might it finally come true…

Latest News from Haiti

Below is a January AP article reprinted from the Miam Herald which depicts the violence in the major cities of Haiti and especially in the capital of Port-au-Prince. Helping Hugs, Inc. is pleased to report that the violence has not extended to Cotes-de-Fer. However, the capital city of Haiti is a major hub for travel to and from Haiti as well as a major hub for supplies both in and out of Haiti. As you will read, travel to and from Port-au-Prince is dangerous and thus food and fuel have been scarce and expensive over the past two years. Currently, we are seeing some reduction in activity by the gangs and the expectation is that things will calm down once a new president is elected. People are beginning to move about the country again which in turn will allow us to resume a number of our projects which have been on hold for the past year. Please pray that the violence will abate and that we will be able to continue our mission to assist the people of Cotes-de-Fer in becoming a self-sustaining community.

Surviving amidst the Haitian Gang Wars

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — When machine gun fire erupts outside the barbed-wire fences surrounding Fontaine Hospital Center, the noise washes over a cafeteria full of tired, scrub-clad medical staff. And no one bats an eye. Gunfire is part of daily life here in Cité Soleil – the most densely populated part of the Haitian capital and the heart of Port-au-Prince’s gang wars.

As gangs tighten their grip on Haiti, many medical facilities in the Caribbean nation’s most violent areas have closed, leaving Fontaine as one of the last hospitals and social institutions in one of the world’s most lawless places.

“We’ve been left all alone,” said Loubents Jean Baptiste, the hospital’s medical director.

Fontaine can mean the difference between life and death for hundreds of thousands of people just trying to survive, and it offers a small oasis of calm in a city that has descended into chaos.

The danger in the streets complicates everything: When gangsters with bullet wounds show up at the gates, doctors ask them to check their automatic weapons at the door as if they were coats. Doctors
cannot return safely to homes in areas controlled by rival gangs and must live in hospital dormitories. Patients who are too scared to seek basic care due to the violence arrive in increasingly dire condition.

Access to health care has never been easy in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. But late last year it suffered a one-two punch. One of Haiti’s most powerful gang federations, G9, blockaded Port-au-Prince’s most important fuel terminal, essentially paralyzing the country for two months.

At the same time, a cholera outbreak made worse by gang-imposed mobility restrictions brought the Haitian health care system to its knees.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Volker Türk, said this month that violence between G9 and a rival gang has turned Cité Soleil into “a living nightmare.” Reminders of the desperation are never far away. An armored truck driven by hospital leaders passes by hundreds of mud pies baking in the harsh sun to fill the stomachs of people who can’t afford food. Black spray-painted “G9” tags dot nearby buildings, a warning of who’s in charge.

In a February report, the U.N. documented 263 murders between July and December in just the small area surrounding the hospital, noting that violence has “severely hampered” access to health services.

That was the case for 34-year-old Millen Siltant, a street vendor who sits in a hospital hallway waiting for a checkup, her hands nervously clutching medical paperwork over her pregnant belly.

Nearby, hospital staff play with nearly 20 babies and toddlers — orphans whose parents were killed in the gang wars.

Normally, Siltant would travel an hour across the city by colorful buses known as tap-taps for her prenatal checkups at Fontaine. There she would join other pregnant women waiting for exams and mothers cradling malnourished children in line for weigh-ins.

All the clinics in the area where she lives have closed, she said. For two months last year she couldn’t leave the house because gangs holding the city hostage made travel through the dusty, winding streets nearly impossible.

“Some days, there’s no transportation because there’s no fuel,” she said. “Sometimes there’s a shooting on the street and you spend hours unable to go outside … Now I’m worried because the doctor says I need to get a C-section.”

Health care providers said the crisis has caused more bullet and burn wounds. It has also fueled an uptick in less predictable conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and sexually transmitted infections, largely because of slashed access to primary care.

Started as a one-room clinic to provide basic medical services to a community with no other resources, Fontaine Hospital Center was opened in 1991 by Jose Ulysse.

Ulysse and his family have worked to expand the hospital year after year. They fight to keep their doors open, Ulysse said.

Because most of the people in the area live in extreme poverty, the hospital charges little to nothing to patients even as it struggles to purchase advanced medical equipment with funds from UNICEF and other international aid providers. Between 2021 and 2022, the facility saw a 70% jump in the number of patients.

Even the gangs understand the importance of medical care, Jean Baptiste said. Yet the walls still feel like they’re closing in.

“You say, well, I have to work. So let God protect me,” Jean Baptiste said. “As this situation gets worse, we go out and decide to face the risks. … We have to keep pushing forward.”

Reprinted story from Associated Press

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