Jacmel, Haiti – The Caribbean nation of Haiti is well known for its poverty and insecurity, but although it has never been popular with travelers, some people here are riding a wave of change to make that happen.
The Haitian government has earmarked millions of dollars for the tourism sector, and there are already massive resort hotels in various stages of construction. However, there are also more humble initiatives under way that could have a major impact.
The economic situation in Haiti is bleak with most people living on just a few dollars a day. There are uncertain prospects for children, so as adults, they often aspire to leave.
The founders of Surf Haiti recognised the potential benefits a surfing programme could have for local youth. They also realised Haiti could be seen by some surfers as an attractive destination with alternative flair.
Joan Mamique took over the programme in 2013 and turned it into a small business, one he said he hopes will soon be entirely run by Haitians. Children already rent boards out, and soon they’ll be teaching lessons as well.
Beaches in the south of Haiti are among the most pristine on the island, and Jacmel is the country’s cultural capital. So it’s little wonder that the Surf Haiti project is centred there. It’s still small with few customers, but organisers say they believe that will soon change.