Some myths about Haiti cause concern for people wanting to plan mission trips to Haiti in 2017. Like all mission trips abroad, mission trip organization, preparation and knowledge are necessary for a safe and successful experience.
Myths About Haiti
The most common myths about Haiti center on crime, disease and natural disasters. These myths are sometimes sensationalized by the media. It would be a shame for these myths about Haiti to prevent you from experiencing the beauty of this country and the warm and welcoming nature of the Haitian people.
These are the three top myths and the actual truths you should know when considering a mission trip to Haiti:
Myth #1: Haiti has extremely high violent crime rates. Compared to other Caribbean countries, Haiti’s violent crime ranks low. Jamaica is considered a very popular Caribbean tourist destination, and the murder rate in Jamaica is more than seven times the murder rate in Haiti.
The 2005 kidnapping issue was a serious problem for tourists, volunteers and long term foreign residents throughout Haiti. Ransom kidnappings twelve years later are rare and confined almost exclusively to Port au Prince. Muggings at night are not unique to Haiti. Being vigilant and not doing things such as walking alone at night and being careful when using an ATM are universal precautions to be taken everywhere including Haiti.
Myth #2: Haiti is known for infectious diseases. Infectious diseases can be prevented and managed when preparing for a mission trip abroad. The Centers for Disease Control has recommendations vaccinations and medications for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, hepatitis A, typhoid, cholera and malaria. Proper planning to allow one month prior to your departure for single-dose inoculations and several more weeks for two-stage series vaccinations is all that’s needed to keep you healthy.
Myth #3: Haiti has too many natural disasters. The poor infrastructure in Haiti causes the country to be hit harder by bad weather and natural disasters. Like in many other developing countries, it is not necessarily the number of natural disasters that strike — it is the lack of efficient response systems.
Since you never know when disaster will strike wherever you travel, preparation is your best defense. Seasoned mission and recreational travelers have shared these tips:
• Purchase reliable travel insurance. Travel insurance will give you peace of mind regarding medical expenses, lost luggage and other losses while traveling and flight accident coverage.
• Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to help with a lost passport, warning updates and evacuations.
• Carry both a digital and paper back-up of your passport, emergency contacts and travel insurance. Keep the paper copies separate from the originals in case of loss or theft.
Now that the myths have been dispelled, join others who have experienced the beauty, love and life-changing adventure that awaits you in Haiti.