Haiti on the world mapHaiti, officially the Republic of Haiti, is a sovereign state located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti has an estimated 10.8 million people, making it the second-most populous country in the Caribbean as a whole.

Columbus landing in HaitiSpain discovered the island on 5 December 1492 during the first voyage of Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic. When Columbus initially landed in Haiti, he had thought he had found India or Asia.On Christmas Day 1492, Columbus’ flagship the Santa Maria ran aground north of what is now Limonade. As a consequence, Columbus ordered his men to salvage what they could from the ship, and he created the first European settlement in the Americas, naming it La Navidad after the day the ship was destroyed.

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. The massive earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010 made things worse for the country and its people. More than 310,000 died, about 300,000 were injured, and over 1,000,000 were rendered homeless. It also left most of their hospital facilities significantly damaged.

For a country of 10 million people, Haiti does not have a fully trained retinal specialist. Patients are either treated by some doctors who have some amount of work experience, or the patients have to Dominican Republic, a long 8-hour bus journey.

Read about Alice Kim’s experience in Port-au-Prince for an outreach mission.