Haitian Culture: Impact on Nursing Care

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Haitian Culture: Impact on Nursing Care

The Republic of Haiti is in the western part of the island of Hispaniola in the West Indies. It is densely populated and has the lowest per capita income in the western hemisphere (Kemp, 2001). The population of more than seven million is made up of mostly descendents of African slaves brought to the West Indies by French colonists. The horrible conditions in Haiti, such as crushing poverty, unemployment and illiteracy, and high rates of acute and chronic illnesses and child and infant mortality, result in the illegal immigration of many Haitians to the United States, France, and other countries in Western Europe. Most immigrants are adults and teens who leave Haiti in tiny boats, despite the
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In addition to these spiritual figures, Catholic saints may also be incorporated into religious practices, though they are often called by different names and have different meanings. Because of this intermixing of beliefs, religious symbols may appear to be Catholic, but are actually Voodou. For Haitians, to have extended family is the ideal, but where immigration is concerned, this is not always possible, as many family members may be left behind. The family dynamic is mostly matriarchal, but the man holds the ultimate power of decision-making in matters outside of the family and is typically the primary wage-earner. Common-law marriage is widely seen, and the woman usually takes the name of her husband and loses her own. There are often inconsistencies in the traditional ways of Haitian childrearing and accepted practices in American culture. Discipline is swift and physical and may be seen as abuse by American standards. Children are seen as a gift from God, and are cherished by the whole community. Family and community are very important to the Haitian people and those who emigrate are often still financially responsible for those left behind. To make up for the loss of family, many Haitians live as groups in the community to serve as a support system for one another, as well as for new immigrants, even if they are not biologically tied to the
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