I'm Nittai Malchin, a senior at Palo Alto High School in CA and the founder of One Love Advocates. Our mission is to do whatever possible to improve access to education in communities that are struggling with destructive or endemic problems. My immediate focus is helping kids in Haiti gain access to educational opportunities. I recently traveled to Haiti, and I will be documenting my trip on this site. There are 4 sections (see navigation above) to my mini site: (1) my blog where i document my activities, impressions and thoughts from Haiti (2) About One Love where you can read more about the initiative (3) Support One Love where you can learn how to get involved, donate or help (4) contact info. And on the right sidebar you will find more info such as links to other sites, feeds, photos, videos, and ways to contact me or share One Love with others. Also, check out the cool toolbar on the bottom of your screen to see our videos, photos, and Facebook page, for translations, and more. Thank you for visiting and feel free to share your thoughts.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Even a Dollar is Not a Dollar

During our time in Haiti, we came to realize that there are numerous quirky idiosyncrasies in everyday life. One such example is the monetary system in Haiti. The current official currency is the Gourde (pronounced goooood), but along the years, it has been revalued by the Haitian government and people several times.

In 1912 the US Dollar was set equal to 5 Gourdes. This relationship, however, was abandoned some 20 years ago, but the relationship lives on among the people. Five Gourdes = 1 Haitian Dollar (which the locals refer to as simply a “dollar”), and 1 US Dollar = 40 Gourdes. In most places prices are given in Haitian Dollars as opposed to Gourdes, and so the prices must be multiplied by five in order to convert to the real currency: Gourdes.

As you can imagine, for those who are not used to this system, such as myself, this caused a great deal of confusion. At a market, three tomatoes cost 16 Dollars (obviously far too expensive), and we were shocked. Once we got the register, however, we realized that this was 16 Haitian Dollars, which is 80 Gourdes, which is, in turn, 2 US Dollars. Confusing, right?

Although this is only a simple matter, it is one of countless aspects of life in Haiti. Nothing is simple in Haiti. Whether it’s finding housing, finding work, getting an education, calculating the currency, or anything else. Far before the dreadful earthquake, Haitians were living complicated and harsh lives, and now their struggles have only been increased. Be it a US Dollar, Gourde, or Haitian Dollar, Haitian people are all craving for one more – especially in a country where many live on $1 a day.

1 comment:

  1. haha gooooood.

    inspiring nittai, you should be proud