Having faced much historical injustice and the continuous structural violence of global economic policies, many Haitians have learned to maintain hope in the face of severe adversity. Many believe that the future will be better and that education will help them get out of poverty. Religion contributes to their hope and provides them with a sense of control over their destiny. To build on this indigenous resourcefulness, helpers should be prepared to learn from their clients.
Clinicians should be aware of their own beliefs and attitudes about illness and toward Haitian culture in order to understand how this may impact on their relationships with patients. They need to acknowledge the medical diversity that exists in Haiti. Patients use multiple explanatory models and sources of help. Clinicians must avoid an ‘either/or’ stance that forces patients to choose between biomedicine and traditional healing. They must assess the client’s and the family’s understanding of the illness. Attention should be given to spiritual understandings of the illness and sensitive clinicians must work collaboratively with the family and the community.