Scholarship trip to Haiti

Every year, 2 to 3 MAX employees are selected for scholarships and visit one of the projects supported by the Foundation. For most scholarship recipients it will be a transformative experience, but also a proof that their work effort in Sweden is useful elsewhere in the world.


”A woman who took a motorcycle for 3 hours to get to the clinic and give birth”

What was your first impression of the Central Plateau?

– Arriving at the Central Plateau was something of a culture shock. Most people live in wooden or cement houses that they have built themselves. There is no free access to water, it is a long walk away. There is no access to electricity in the houses. Families live and work in an extremely limited area and work hard to raise money to be able to buy food for the day and pay for the children’s schooling.

If you compare your life with a Haitian of the same age on the Central Plateau, what do you think are the four biggest differences?

The standard of living: We were on a home visit to a family where the woman was my age. There were 5 children in the family and they all lived on a minimal area in a wooden house that they built themselves. They were incredibly proud of their extension where they got twice as much space, and also the opportunity to have two separate bedrooms.

Medical care: In this part of Haiti, life expectancy is estimated at 53-55 years, many suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure and unfortunately do not get the help they need in time. They must to pay before the treatments start. This often makes it difficult for families to get the right medical care at the right time and many patients arrive late with serious ailments.

Maternity care: When we visited Marmont, a woman took a motorcycle for 3 hours to get to the clinic and give birth. We have also been told about women who have crossed the border to the Dominican Republic to a maternity ward there to get the care they need.

Materialism: Materialism is common at home in Sweden, we often buy just for the sake of buying. In Haiti, opportunities are n


”It was really touching to see how our burgers save lives”

What do you think the medical clinics and maternity care clinics that MAX finances mean for those who seek care there, if you compare with a visit to a Swedish family doctor or to a Swedish hospital?

– From what we saw, these clinics mean everything to the population in the area, they literally save lives. The clinics were very “basic” in comparison with Swedish standards, but the staff were impressively skilled and genuinely committed. Something that also impressed me was how many people these clinics helped, and that patients could walk for several hours to get to a clinic. It was really touching to see how our burgers save lives.

What surprised you most during your visit?

– There was a lot that surprised me during the trip, but I think that what surprised me the most was the capital, which is not like any capital I have seen. The houses were very primitive, and the people did everything possible to make money and survive, while sometimes we sometimes drove past luxury villas and luxury cars. The big contrast in the capital was difficult to grasp.


”I expected poverty, but was still surprised”

How did you feel after the trip?

– I was prepared for a shock and for big differences compared to other countries I have visited, but despite that, I left Haiti shocked, a little sad, humbled, and inspired to make a difference. I expected poverty but was still surprised. There are so many things that you take for granted, and never reflect over what your life or society looked like before. All the shortcomings you see make you both sad and inspired to help with the country’s development in some way.

Do you have any thoughts on what other efforts than the medical ones could improve the living conditions of the people you have met?

– The question gives you a lot of thoughts when you travel around and are in Haiti. Sometimes the shortcomings are perceived as so great that you almost want to erase and start all over again. There is a lack of proper infrastructure, the country is corrupt, very few are educated, and the country is extremely overpopulated. More people need to go to school and complete it to be able to further their education and be involved in developing society. Overall – for Haiti to do well without the support of other countries, education is an important key. The other effort that is also important is help with family planning. For even having a chance to catch up and be able to develop the country, the population needs to match the country’s surface and resources better.


”The only real meal that most children on the Central Plateau received was the school meal”

In Haiti, people live on a standard of living that is essentially different from Sweden. Which 5 things have made the strongest impression on you when it comes to living conditions?

  1. If you make an average of the number of doctors per child in this country, a doctor is responsible for about 10,000 children.
  2. A home can look like many different things. A cardboard box, a lump of concrete, a wooden house with two rooms, a luxury villa with high walls, or living in the street.
  3. The distance that people walk to get to for example school, job, etc. People can walk up to five hours just to get to work.
  4. The amount of people living in this country. I have never seen so many people living so close to each other.
  5. The only real meal that most children on the Central Plateau that we visited was the school meal which is possible thanks to the Foundation and MAX.

 Is there anything you envy the Haitians you met?

– The pride in what they own and have built. Instead of envying what you do not have, you are proud of what you have. I will never forget the pride a woman had when she showed off her house that had just been extended. She now has a house with a total of two rooms of about 15 sqm and could not be prouder.