The Best Guide to Volunteering Abroad: Haiti Edition

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There is nothing quite as rewarding or fulfilling as the feeling you experience knowing you’ve touched the lives of countless individuals by lending a helping hand and sharing the Gospel. If you aren’t quite sure where to start or how to embark on this impactful journey you’ve been called on, consider volunteering for a mission trip abroad. When you choose to volunteer in another nation or country, you engage in a life-changing experience that will impact both you and those individuals who you aid abroad.

Preparing to Volunteer In Haiti

If you’ve decided to take the life-changing plunge into volunteering by accompanying a mission trip abroad, your first course of action will be preparing yourself before departure.  Prior and proper preparation beforehand is crucial in providing a mutually beneficiary experience for you and the people you’re serving and building redemptive relationships with. If you’re unaccustomed to the climate or region of countries such as Haiti, preparation is not the area you want to take shortcuts in. Do your research beforehand to ensure you enter the country prepared, comfortable and ready to fulfill the mission that lies ahead.

To feel more at ease with the new surroundings you’ll be experiencing, you can easily find travel tips for Haiti anywhere on the internet beforehand. Even if the surroundings are new and foreign to you, you can rest assured knowing you’ll find smiles and open hearts when you first set foot in Haiti.

Volunteering abroad in Haiti involves more than physical considerations. You’ll contemplate and experience both spiritual and divine sentiments that will last you a lifetime — a feeling which cannot be packed or prepared.

The following information is intended to serve as a guide for both the novice and veteran volunteers before embarking on a life-changing mission trip abroad to Haiti.

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Find a Reputable Missions Organization

Committing to be a  volunteer abroad necessitates knowing what to expect when first stepping foot off your plane and into a new land. The best way to anticipate what your journey will consist of is to pick the ideal organization for you. There are hundreds of international volunteer organizations in the U.S., with even more forming after every natural disaster. As with every industry, some organizations are more ethical about the placements of their volunteers than others.

To be truly educated about your organization and the experience you can expect, nothing is more important than conducting plenty of research beforehand. Look for as much information about the company and its values as you can find. Here are some places to start:

  • Reviews: Check reviews from volunteers, financial donors and any other sources affiliated with the organization.
  • Forums: Find forums online that provide a platform for returning volunteers to post about their experience(s) with the various organizations they’ve assisted. Some organizations have alumni reviews as part of their website.
  • Return Volunteers: Speaking directly to return volunteers is the ideal source. If an organization refuses to put you in touch with previous participants, this is a red flag.

Before you make a commitment to your ideal organization, find out specific details about the organization’s history, prior and current missions, morals and ethics to know you will be choosing the best fit for you. These facts give you a better perspective as to how closely your interests and expectations align with the organization.

While you’re away spreading the Gospel and changing lives, you’ll be far from home in an unfamiliar country. Dealing with the unknown and not knowing what to expect can be nerve-wracking. Familiarize yourself with the process and procedure and if possible, arrange a face-to-face interview or Skype session with a representative to ask these questions:

  • What are the goals of the organization and how do my skills fit into the goals?
  • Will I receive training or any other on the ground support once I arrive?
  • How do you choose your volunteers?
  • When is my total fee due and how does that amount breakdown?
  • How is the local community involved?

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Choose Healing Haiti

We are a Christ-centered ministry that believes when the cycle of poverty is broken and families are strengthened, the entire community can become empowered. We leverage resources to elevate and unify Haitian families.

We believe being in a relationship with the Haitian people allows them to reach their God-given potential. The three-pronged approach of creating jobs, educating the Haitian people and sharing God’s word through a local church helps families care for themselves even after our mission is complete. Creating the biblical model of a family unit is the foundational block on which everything else is built.

Problems such as lack of water, food, education, jobs and knowledge of God and His Grace inhibit countries like Haiti from experiencing life to the fullest degree. Help bring change to Haiti and form bonds that last a lifetime. If you’re seeking a life-changing, transformative experience that will completely alter the lens through which you see life, volunteer to serve others globally by fulfilling your God-given purpose.

Healing Haiti serves 1200 missionaries each year. We offer experiences for individuals, groups, and families with opportunities that include: delivering fresh potable water, caring for elders, engaging in activities with children, praying with individuals and bringing faith to new believers.

Cost to Volunteer Abroad in Haiti

The cost of the trip including lodging, ground transportation, interpreters, meals and an eight-day supply of bottled water is $875. Depending where you live, the time of year and how far in advance you book your flight, airline tickets are an additional $600 to $950.

Other costs to consider are:

  • Passport: Approximately $180
  • Volunteer Travel Insurance: Approximately $30
  • Immunizations and Medications: Approximately $80 — may be covered by your health insurance
  • Pocket Money: Bring around $150 in small, crisp bills for shopping the Haitian markets — wrinkled or torn bills are not accepted by most businesses in Haiti
  • Entry Fee: $10 fee paid at the airport

Another cost to consider is your employers’ policy for time off for volunteer mission trips. Some require you use PTO or vacation time to cover your unworked days. If you don’t have paid time off, you’ll need to factor in the week’s wages as part of your mission trip cost.

Larger corporations may offer to contribute to the donated items fund. Thus, it never hurts to ask for funds and donations from your employer because this is a beneficial tax write off for them that also goes to a beneficial cause.

Be Prepared Medically

Before you leave for your mission trip, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor for a thorough check-up to ensure you’re in the best physical shape to embark on your next mission. At the appointment, you should get any recommended vaccines. In addition, make sure you have enough of any prescription medications you might need while out of the country. Remember, any over the counter medications you take occasionally such as pain relief tablets or cough medicine may not be easily available abroad.

If you can’t get in to see your regular physician before leaving for your trip, you can check out the CDC travel site for specific health concerns then find a medical center with a traveler’s clinic.

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Pack Smart

Group leaders will provide you with a list of specifics to pack. Pack only the basics — traveling lightly is the easiest and the most optimal choice.

Your toiletries, clothes and any other personal items should fit into your carry-on bag for easy transportation and accessibility. Consider the heat and humidity without overlooking the culturally acceptable dress codes. Your group leader will give you information to make sure you bring clothes and shoes that are climate, cultural and activity appropriate for your trip.

Be Flexible and Patient

It seems redundant spending the entire guide, so far, stressing the importance of being prepared, and now say how important it is to be flexible. As you volunteer abroad in Haiti, your primary goal is to help others. Your role is to use your time, treasure and talents to fill the organization’s needs and reach the community in a life-changing way.

Even if you are assigned a mission upon arrival that is completely different than what you were prepared to do and aren’t quite sure if your responsibilities match your strengths and talents, remember the wonderful thing about being challenged. In times challenge and struggle, people grow the most. You may find talents you never even knew you had.

Just like any new experience, there may be struggles. Language barriers, varied worldviews, an unfamiliar environment and adjusting new sensory experiences may be at first foreign to you. You’ll be frustrated at times and may make mistakes. Knowing this is normal won’t make your journey easier, but it will let you know how human your experience truly is.

The only way to not make mistakes is to not try anything new. However, this ultimately defeats the purpose of your mission to help. At times, one must do things wrong before learning to do them right. This is called the learning experience. Be patient with yourself and flexible with the situation at hand, and your goal to be part of a life-changing, transformative and purpose-driven mission trip abroad will be met.

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Document Your Experience

Document your experience by compiling photos, journaling, sketching, and blogging. No matter how long or how short your mission trip abroad is, when you look back it will look like a whirlwind of hard work, learning, exploring and meaningful connections that provide a lifetime of happiness.

Documenting throughout your mission ensures that the most important moments of your journey never fade away. If staying connected with friends and family during your mission trip abroad isn’t possible because of technology restraints, documenting is even more important.

If you’re artistically inclined, a five-minute sketch of children playing and laughing will bring you back to that exact moment every time you see the drawing. If photography is more to your liking, you can capture powerful images to remind yourself and others why volunteering abroad in Haiti is an amazing experience for both individuals and collective groups. However, when photographing people in difficult situations or those who are generally suffering, always remember to be respectful of their human dignity. If you’re unsure, ask them or simply do not take the picture.

Journaling is a wonderful way to record daily events with all the nuances of each experience. When you return home, people will want to know about your mission trip abroad and what your experience entailed. Being able to focus on specific moments such as the funniest event, the strangest food you ate or the most satisfying accomplishment you achieved helps illustrate the experience through a story.

Answering questions like “What was the country like?” or “Did you like it?” dilutes the purpose of volunteering abroad. For someone who has never done a mission trip abroad, these are the types of questions they will generally be intrigued by and ask. Telling a story enhances the purpose, the transformative experience and the goals accomplished. This also clarifies the difference between a mission trip abroad and a vacation to those who don’t understand the difference.

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Answer the Calling

We’re all called to love the people God puts in our path. At Healing Haiti, we are a Christ-centered ministry that exists to strengthen families and make the world better because of it. Our values are:

  • Faith: By living our faith, we share who Jesus is.
  • Family: God’s design to raise children in a family structure should be our goal.
  • Elevate and Empower: Being in a relationship with the Haitians and allowing them to use their God-given potential is essential. We use the tools of education, job creation and the Church to empower.

God has worked through the Healing Haiti ministry to coordinate life-changing experiences. Whether you want to create change in the world for God’s people or share your faith and connect more closely with God, Healing Haiti will prepare you for a meaningful mission trip and journey.

Healing Haiti is a trusted short-term missions’ organization. We give all the glory to God for working in us and through us to share faith, heal and love the Haitian people. God has allowed us to see both the lives of our volunteers and the Haitians touched by His grace. It is a blessing that sustains and nourishes our faith.

If you choose to answer the call, you will see why many of our volunteers say they receive more than they give. Mission work in Haiti blesses you with a different worldview that you will carry with you throughout the entirety of your life. As you care for sick babies, spend time with abandoned children, visit with the elderly, acquire fresh water, pray with the Haitian people and generate faith amongst a new group of people, your heart will be at once broken and rebuilt by God.

Come to us with an open and loving heart, and we promise your life will be changed forever. You will experience the most difficult and fulfilling work you have ever done. In a short period of time, you will witness transformations, moments of regained dignity, and compassion on a level only the hand of God can provide. You will be caught up in the joy and enthusiasm the Haitian people naturally share with those who come to help them regain their lives.

If you feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit, take the leap and contact Healing Haiti to get more information about our short-term mission trips.

Top Ways You Can Help Haiti in 2017

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Many people are wanting to know how to help Haiti now. The needs of the people and the situation of the country changes. If you are looking for how you can help Haiti in 2017, these points explain the most important ways you can support the mission to heal Haiti.

Donate to Haiti

Donating supplies such as clothes, shoes, baby formula and vitamins are often the immediate basic needs requested by relief organizations. Checking directly with the organization is recommended to avoid donating items they may already have a surplus of. You can also get specific information about how to send your goods from the individual organizations, as well.

Money is always the quickest way to help get medical supplies, housing, food and other emergency funding relief to those in need. Always thoroughly research the organization you are giving cash to so you know exactly where it is going and how it will be used.

Volunteer in Haiti 2017

Whether you are considering a short-term mission trip to Haiti or a long-term mission trip to Haiti, the backing of a volunteer organization is crucial. Taking mission trips to Haiti through a volunteer organization ensures you have a plan, supplies, and preparation to maximize efforts for relief where the need is the greatest.

Volunteering through an organization like Healing Haiti is much safer than making a mission trip on your own.

Start a Campaign

Organizing a fundraiser or community drive is a wonderful way to help Haiti. Educating your group by staying informed of the current needs in Haiti motivates your family, friends, church and other social and local groups to get involved.

Contact Healing Haiti for information about campaigns and fundraisers that were successfully done by other organizations.

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Pray

Prayer is a powerful part of the Healing Haiti mission. Pray for the peace and comfort of the Haitian people. Pray for the missionaries and the mission trip organizers. Pray for God’s guidance and grace as we glorify Him in all we do.

You can help heal Haiti now with any of these suggestions. If you have any questions or ideas about helping, contact Healing Haiti today.

Top 3 Misconceptions About Traveling to Haiti

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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.
 
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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.