This story is part of a special investigation into Haiti's gang crisis and potential solutions. To view the full series visit our special section, Gangs in Haiti: A deeper look.
CAP-HAITIEN — After Jameson Davilma's mother died from an illness when he was 13, the boy often counted on neighbors near his Cité Soleil home to survive. Sometimes, usually late at night, a neighbor might send him on en errand to buy food. Only then would Davilma have a bite from what the neighbor shared.
"Sometimes, I cried when I got hungry," Davilma, now 30, recalls. "I’d wake up and couldn't find even a piece of bread or a little coffee. I’d spent the whole morning with no food — couldn't even buy a small marinad. Then by noon, my stomach was filled with gas."
With many residents turning to neighborhood groups for basic services where Haiti’s government has failed, gangs are empowered, filling a leadership vacuum and fueling the country’s long cycle of violence and repression.
When you join The Haitian Times family, you’ll get unlimited digital access to high-quality journalism about Haiti and Haitians you won’t get anywhere else. We’ve been at this for 20 years and pride ourselves on representing you, our diaspora experience and a holistic view of Haiti that larger media doesn’t show you.
Join now or renew to get:
— Instant access to one-of-kind stories and special reports
— Local news from our communities (especially New York and Florida)
— Profiles of Haitians at the top of their fields
— Downloadable lists and resources about Haitian culture
— Membership merch, perks and special invitations
First-time subscribers also receive a special welcome gift handmade in Haiti by expert artisans! Do it for the culture and support Black-owned businesses.
If you’re seeing this message but you’re already a subscriber, you can log in for immediate access to this story.