Sarah Hackett first visited Haiti in 1992. A retired nurse, Sarah had always been fascinated by this country that sat 700 miles from the U.S. coast and yet is one of the poorest countries in the world, with the highest mortality and lowest literacy rates in the hemisphere. As a volunteer with the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, a Boston-based public health NGO, Sarah traveled to Fond des Blancs, Haiti where she quickly fell in love with the country and its beautiful people. Working in the hospital Sarah saw the dire effects of poverty on the health and well-being of the village. The challenges that faced women in the community particularly touched Sarah and she sought to create programming to help the women pull themselves out of poverty.
In 1994, Sarah launched a family planning clinic that provided much-needed family planning services to community members. When she realized that none of the women had the income to afford even the most basic medical fees, Sarah sought to address a deeper problem — a lack of employment and income in the rural community. In 1996 the Haiti Projects Artisanat Cooperative was launched, bringing important work and income to Fond des Blancs. Over the years, the Haiti Projects Artisanat Cooperative has become an essential part of the community and is now the second-largest employer in the region, after the local hospital. Haiti Projects now provides life-saving income to nearly 100 women from all across the area who work to support their families. As a result of her work in Haiti, the Isabel Allende Foundation gave Sarah their “Espíritu Award” in 2009 in recognition of the “compassionate action” of Haiti Projects in promoting the empowerment of women and girls.
Haiti Projects has grown to provide supporting services in other areas of the community. In addition to the family health clinic and the women’s cooperative, Haiti Projects has also launched a community library and education scholarship fund. All of these programs help the village community to survive and thrive.