Titanyen, known locally as the “valley of death,” has a central place in the minds of Haitians.
Titanyen is a sparsely populated town close to Port Au Prince and also home to one of Haiti’s largest public cemeteries. During the 1950-1985 dictatorship of Francois Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude, the bodies of thousands of political prisoners and executed government opponents were dumped there. The 2010 earthquake killed an estimated 150,000 people across Haiti and about 1 in 13 residents of Port Au Prince. With limited burial space, Port Au Prince was quickly overwhelmed and started sending its dead to Titanyen. The cemetery quickly hit capacity and mass graves had to be dug. Roughly 10,000 people were buried in the seaside hills of Titanyen in the year following the earthquake.
Who they are today
The people of Titanyen today are a resilient, tough group doing their best to put the past behind and start a new life. Most of those living in Titanyen are refugees of the 2010 earthquake and many came from Port Au Prince. Port Au Prince was devastated by the earthquake and many people were left homeless or staying in refugee camps. Rather than deal with difficulties of the city, people packed their bags and headed to Titanyen. Titanyen is now home to approximately 13,000 residents. Roughly half of those are children.
Titanyen is located 45 minutes north of the capital Port Au Prince. The location is a beautiful but barren terrain that looks out over the sea on the western side of Haiti. The land for this project lies at the foot of a mountain range not far from the main highway to Port Au Prince.
Titanyen’s basic economy is centered around its marketplace. Citizens come down from the mountains or from Port-au-Prince to sell their produce and/or other products. The market is open three days a week. Other than the marketplace, there are a handful of churches, schools, and small family boutiques where items can be sold. Few people have stable jobs or skills training and most make a living buying and selling whatever is available to them. Unfortunately, the soil is not the most conducive to growing crops and families without proper training rarely have success.
A symbolic community of hope and tenacity
Despite their troubles, the people of Titanyen are hopeful for the future. With some help to overcome their obstacles, these people can have a bright new future. Let’s help these families start a new hopeful chapter for the area of Titanyen and the people living there!