Once There was A Country: Revisiting Haiti (53 minutes) examines the causes of the present healthcare crisis in Haiti at the beginning of the twenty-first century and provides examples on how innovative, self-sustaining healthcare programs can alleviate poverty and disease in the most isolated regions of Haiti.

The film highlights Haiti’s rich cultural heritage and the little known triumphs of a country that is home to the first successful slave revolt in the world and which became the first black-ruled nation in The New World. Once There Was a Country: Revisiting Haiti explores the social and environmental reasons behind a failing healthcare infrastructure and Haiti’s status as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.  Once There Was a Country aims to dispel the myths surrounding this misunderstood country and provide viewers with a surprisingly positive point of view.

The film follows a Haitian family during a six-month period as they are treated for tuberculosis. The film also follows a single man through a direct-observed therapy (DOT) health initiative for Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS  in the area of the Plateau Central Throughout the film, viewers will learn about the historical and cultural context for Haiti's lack of a proper healthcare system and available alternatives.

About the film



An unstable political climate, in which 33 out of 54 governing bodies have ended in political upheaval in Haiti, has left infrastructure and social programs to disintegrate. With little or no basic utility resources such as electricity, charcoal has been used for cooking and lighting. Charcoal is made from the cutting and burning of trees and it is one of the only products that farmers in the countryside are able to sell for a pittance to the overcrowded cities, Haiti’s forests are disappearing at a rate of 15 to 20 million trees a year. Charcoal production is partly reponsile. Charcoal has become the country’s primary fuel, and people are forced to cut down the remaining trees in order to produce it.


With no tree roots to hold the soil, topsoil has disappeared. Every rainfall in Haiti now sends chunks of mountain down onto roads and into the sea, polluting the water, choking the reefs and wreaking havoc on already depleted fish supply. Sixty percent of Haiti's 8 million people do not have safe drinking water. Only 25 percent of Haitians have access to clean water.

With fewer trees, there's less rain. Less rain, means fewer crops. Fewer crops, means less food, and less food, results in poor health, malnutrition, infant mortality and overall starvation.


Besides creating a dire nutrition and health crisis, fewer crops also means less work, which prompts people, particularly in the country side, to immigrate in order to find work.

Patients suffering from HIV infection and/or AIDS find it almost impossible to observe their complex treatments once they leave their home in search of work. Immigration adversely impacts

the spread and control of infectious diseases.


Today, many say that Haiti is 90% Catholic but 100% Voodoo. Many people will seek relief for their illnesses by paying a visit to their Hougans, or Voodoo priests. Voodoo priests, however important as local leaders and spiritual guides, are not able to cure infectious diseases.

Recognizing the social influence of Hougans and Voodoo in healing the Haitian people, doctors at Medishare continually educate, collaborate and work with local Hougans to promote

effective healthcare practices. It is important to understand that Voodoo not only embodies a set of spiritual concepts, it prescribes

a way of life, a philosophy and a code of ethics that regulate social behavior. In Haiti, it soon became inseparable from the peoples desire for emancipation. It became more than a religion, it was a tool for political liberation from the white oppressors who sought to demonize it and abolish it.

Voodoo embraces art, music, dance and poetry. Voodoo creates order out of chaos with no separation between the material and the spiritual. It is an education based on the oral transmission

of songs and folklore with an intricate understanding of tradition, medicine and its own judicial process.

Once There Was A Country: Revisiting Haiti argues that not even the best medical facilities in the world are sufficient to implement and maintain public health without paying attention to people’s social conditions. By expanding their healthcare services to include programs such as water purification and distribution, garbage disposal, hygiene education, micro-lending banks and small food factories that will create local jobs, many alternative healthcare organizations like Medishare are making a lasting impact on the control of infectious diseases in Haiti by building the local economic infrastructure and guaranteeing the sustainability of such programs.

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