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Polish Haitians in Cazale, Haiti

This article (part 2 of 2) is about Polish Haitians in Cazale, Haiti.

In a previous article I wrote about the Polish soldiers sent by Napoleon to Haiti (then Saint-Domingue) and their legacy in today’s Haiti.

The previous article has background information that gives context to this article.

As explained in my previous article, no one speaks Polish as a first language in today’s Haiti. However, in the village of Cazale, where the majority of the Polish soldiers settled after the Haitian Revolution, Cazaliens are very aware of their Polish heritage and are fiercely proud of it.

In the past, the Cazaliens relationship and view of the far-away land of Poland was somewhat abstract. In recent years this has changed due to better access to education* and the many overseas journalists and tourists who have visited Cazale for the purpose of research and tourism.

Associated map of Haiti. Derivative work. Original:
EC, ECHO, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Map showing location area of Polish Haitians in Cazale
Map showing location area of Polish Haitians in Cazale

School education of children in Haiti

According to the Haitian government, education for children in Haiti is free. In practice, the education system is so underfunded, that only a small proportion of children receive free education.

While 67% of children in Haiti will enrol in school at some point during their childhood, only 30% of that 67% will ever move further than third grade.

Source: Moore, Carson, “Global Education: The Caribbean Realm” (2021). Williams Honors College, Honors Research Projects. 1307. https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/honors_research_projects/1307. Page 11.

*School education of children in Cazale

In Cazale, however, the Lazarus Commission funds the Repairer of The Breaches School and according to the school’s Facebook page, school fees are not charged “for some children who might not otherwise be able to go to school, Repairer of the Breaches is providing tuition free education.”

Source: Repairer of The Breaches School Facebook “about” page.

Polish Haitians in Cazale

The Christopher & Elizabeth Mission introduces Polish culture to Cazaliens, through the medium of videography and via the Polish children’s channel CazaleTVPologne.

Much of the Christopher & Elizabeth Mission’s education of children takes place at the Repairer of The Breaches Mixed School.

Both the Christopher & Elizabeth Mission and the TV channel are run by Polish philanthropists Krzysztof (known as Christopher in the community) and Elżbieta Szybiński.

The associated video features the performing work of school student Jennica. As explained in the video, Jennica expressed a desire (in Haitian Creole), that she would like to sing Polish songs in Polish.

The result is a remarkable achievement. Jennica has never had singing lessons and, of course, does not speak Polish.

Those of you who are Polish, may know the song. It’s Radość najpiękniejszych lat (Joy of the most beautiful years), made famous by Anna Jantar. Jantar died in the LOT Polish Airlines Flight 007 crash in 1980.

Radość najpiękniejszych lat  sung by Jennica from Cazale

Polish Haitians in Cazale – A snapshot of the last few years

The associated video is about educational and cultural events that have taken place over the last few years in Cazale.

Fast forward the video to 7:50 minutes to watch the Day of Solidarity of Polish People with Polish Haitians in Cazale.

Watch the children performing the Polonaise and singing Polish songs – in Polish.

The event took place at the Church of Saint Michel de Cazale in 2017.

A snapshot from Cazale – The last few years

The above video and an associated editorial (in Polish) was also published on the GOV.PL website on 22 April 2021.

The following text (translated into English by South Coast View) gives more information about the video and about Polish Haitians in Cazale.

The associated translated editorial is republished by us under the license Uznanie autorstwa 3.0 Polska (CC BY 3.0 PL).

Video Conference – Meeting with the Polish diaspora from Haiti

On the evening of April 22, 2021, Minister Jan Dziedziczak (Government Plenipotentiary for the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad) met with representatives of the Polish community in Haiti.

It was an unusual meeting, carried out via video conference, as part of the #SpotkaniazPolonią series, during which Minister Dziedziczak learned about current problems and plans for the future of Poles living in different parts of the world.

Haitian descendants of Polish legionnaires and Poles who take care of disseminating knowledge about Poland within the local communit and who care for the memory of Poles in Haiti, joined the video conference.

It is amazing that in a place so distant from Poland, you can still find traces of Polishness. Polish Haitians proudly speak of their roots, referring to the tradition of a country with which they seem to be completely unfamiliar with.

Children from Cazale, known as the Polish village in Haiti, with the support of Krzysztof Szybński, who has been involved in development and education for many years, prepared a film especially for this occasion.

Currently, Polish citizens in Haiti are mainly members of Polish-Haitian families and workers of humanitarian organizations, temporarily staying in Haiti.

The inhabitants of the village of Cazale (also known as La Pologne), located about 70 kilometres from the country’s capital Port-au-Prince, refer to their Polish origin and consider themselves descendants of the soldiers of the Polish Legions sent to Haiti to suppress the uprising of Black slaves.

After the initial clashes with the Black population, the legionaries fell during battle or went over to the Haitian side. After the fighting ended, they remained in Haiti.

The mementoes and documents relating to the Polish origin of Cazaliens were preserved until the 20th century but mostly lost during the dictatorship of Francois Duvalier in the 1960s, which was related to the discrimination and persecution of people of lighter skin colour. However, a cemetery has survived in the village, where most of the names are Polish.

The inhabitants of Cazale, despite not knowing the Polish language and the country of their ancestors, consider themselves Poles and proudly emphasize their uniqueness.

Source: GOV.PL

CazaleTVPologne and Christopher & Elizabeth Mission activities

View photographs of children from Cazale taking part in CazaleTVPologne videography activities in April 2021.

The photographs in the Cazale photo Gallery below are protected by copyright and I am very grateful for the Christopher & Elizabeth Mission’s kind permission to use them on this website. All images copyright © 2021 Christopher & Elizabeth Mission.

I hope you enjoyed this snapshot featuring Polish Haitians in Cazale.

I trust that events causing instability throughout Haiti will resolve themselves and facilitate a more prosperous future for all people of the country.

Polish Haitians in Cazale – Resources

Part 1 of this article – Polish Soldiers in Haiti

Christopher & Elizabeth Mission website in Cazale in English. In Polish

CazaleTVPologne on YouTube

Repairer of The Breaches School in Cazale website. Facebook Page

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Please note that the words on this page are copyright © 2021 South Coast View. The exception is the section entitled “Video Conference – Meeting with the Polish diaspora from Haiti”, which is a translation into English under the Uznanie autorstwa 3.0 Polska (CC BY 3.0 PL) license.

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