Haitian ex-pats return to build lake enterprise

Haitian ex-pats return to build lake enterprise

Two Haitian brothers came back to their homeland to build a livelihood on Lake Azuei, a turbulent expanse of water that has often been cruel to those living along its shore, flooding homes in the border town of Fond Parisien and blocking a key highway into the Dominican Republic.

 In this April 26, 2018 photo, people ride in a loaded truck, serving as public transportation, on the highway that leads to the Dominican Republic along the shore of Lake Azuei in Fond Parisien, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

In this April 26, 2018 photo, people ride in a loaded truck, serving as public transportation, on the highway that leads to the Dominican Republic along the shore of Lake Azuei in Fond Parisien, Haiti. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Hans and Patrick Woolley left careers in online startups and hospital administration in Los Angeles and New York to invest in their home country and try their luck at fish farming in the lake, which is less than an hour away from Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince. Their cousin Gilbert Woolley gave up a hospital administration job in L.A. to join them.

Working near the ghostly ruins of flooded homes sitting in the lake, the three graduates of U.S. universities spend their days overseeing their start-up, Taino Aqua Fish, which uses fish cages just below the lake's surface to produce affordable fish for Haitians, who complain about a lack of fish.

"Fish is a luxury in Haiti, but we want to change that," said Hans Wooley.

The Woolley family inherited some land along the shore and then bought more in the 1970s as it dreamed of raising crawfish, but the land went unused until the two brothers decided to try fish farming a few years ago.

Many residents of Fond Parisien long looked for jobs elsewhere in Haiti or more often in the more prosperous Dominican Republic, but now people approach the Woolleys' fish company.
Laguerre Espadien is grateful that the fish farm gave him work and allowed him to move back to his hometown and get away from the violent crime in Port-au-Prince.

"When I quit my job in the capital I thanked God because I'm alive. Now I'm taking care of my three children on my salary," said Espadien, a 36-year-old who joined the farm's delivery department when the company opened.


Photos were published with the story Haiti Fish Farm Photo Gallery by Dieu Nalio Chery.