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Haiti’s Green Pharmacy: When Will We Restore It?


Every single day in Haiti, men, women, and children cure their illnesses using extracts from the country’s flora. Haiti’s green pharmacy has saved countless lives since ancient times and it continues to do so today, even in the face of serious challenges like deforestation and erosion. The medicinal properties of the country’s plants and herbs are so appreciated that Haitians living outside the country routinely request and receive dried leaves from family members, to use when a cold or a fever strikes. For many of us, NyQuil will never be as good as a warm cup of Asowosi (Momordica charantia) or Cachiman (Annona reticulata).

I am sharing these thoughts as a way to encourage you to consider how you might be able to help restore Haiti’s green, living, and breathing pharmacy. It’s common knowledge today that Haiti’s current vegetation is not what it used to be just a few decades ago. And each wave of deforestation or environmental degradation is, in fact, contributing to erode and destroy the country’s living and dynamic stock of natural medicine. Any Haitian hill or mountain without its natural vegetation is similar to a typical drug store with empty shelves. In both cases, the customer will not find the desired product to help cure his or her disease; and in both cases, the situation can be reversed. Fortunately!

If you are part of the Haitian Diaspora, as an example, your place of residence should not really be a serious obstacle blocking or limiting your involvement. Consider these two questions, as a start:

  1. How often do you travel to Haiti? Imagine what your personal impact would be if you could find a way to plant just one single tree every time you go back to our beloved land. This could be your contribution to help replenish those empty shelves.
  2. Which department and city are you connected to in Haiti? Your hometown may need you to help restore those places where your childhood memories were built. It’s almost certain that growing up, you learned to enjoy the shade or succulent fruits of giant trees that may no longer be around today. The empty space they leave behind could very well be just waiting for you to make the right move.

How you answer these questions, and others you may have regarding Haiti’s green pharmacy, will determine what you do or don’t do about it. But for us all, the time to act is now. You can start today.

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