A Guide To Volunteering Abroad in Haiti
Haiti is a fascinating place. At the turn of the 19th century it became the only country in the world to lead a successful slave rebellion, and subsequently the first Latin American country to declare independence from European colonial powers. Since the turn of the 21st century, however, Haiti has seen its fair share of turmoil; a coup d’état in 2004 and a horrendous earthquake in 2010 have unfortunately left it as the least developed country in the Americas. Within this context, choosing to volunteer abroad in Haiti can help make a real impact through local projects, giving average citizens the tools and infrastructure they need to bounce back.
Haiti is a small island country in the Caribbean Sea, occupying the western half of the island of Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern half), and home to just over 10 million citizens. Long inhabited by the indigenous Taino people, the island was first discovered to the outside world by Christopher Columbus during his fateful voyage of 1492.
Today, the bustling capital city of Port-au-Prince is typically the most popular destination where to volunteer abroad in Haiti. Sitting on a natural harbor with over 3 million people living in the metropolitan area, Port-au-Prince is the major political, cultural, and economic nucleus of Haiti, as well as home to well over a third of the country’s total populace.
Other destinations where you might look to volunteer abroad in Haiti include the smaller urban areas of Jacmel, Les Cayes, and Leogane. The country is very small, so anywhere you choose to volunteer in Haiti will be relatively nearby to everywhere else.
Bear in mind while deciding on a location where to volunteer abroad in Haiti that the country is still very much in recovery from the 2010 earthquake, which took a catastrophic toll on lives and infrastructure. Some places were hit harder than others, so this will affect both the progress of the rebuilding effort and the demand for volunteers from abroad.
Haiti has the lowest human development ranking in the Western hemisphere, and so international volunteers are welcomed with open arms to contribute their time and effort to help boost social infrastructure in a variety of areas. Some of the most popular fields in which to volunteer abroad in Haiti include education, healthcare, and human rights, where aspiring professionals and compassionate world citizens alike can help locals get a leg up in an increasingly competitive global context.
Because the country is still in recovery from the 2010 earthquake, volunteer projects in Haiti are also common within the areas of construction, water, community development, and other areas of disaster relief. While natural disasters cause a big international stir and movement when they occur, not many people realize that they take years if not decades to recover from, and so the devoted work of volunteers is continuously in demand!
It will be up to you to decide how long you will volunteer abroad in Haiti for, depending on your availability and preferences. Some choose to volunteer abroad in Haiti for as short as a few weeks, while others stay on for several months or up to a full year. No effort is too small or too large!
While you will not be making any money as a volunteer in Haiti, the country is a very affordable one for most international travellers, so you will not have to be overly concerned by on-the-ground costs. In addition, volunteer projects in Haiti will often help compensate you by other means such as providing housing and meals. Launching a fundraising campaign is a great idea if you are interested in volunteering abroad in Haiti, as well.
What type of accommodations you have will largely depend on where you are and what type of volunteer project in Haiti you are working. For example if you are volunteering in conservation in one of the bigger cities, then homestays are a popular option; conversely if you are working in disaster relief at a refugee camp, living conditions will obviously be more basic. Take these considerations into account and be sure to discuss different housing options with your volunteer program in Haiti.
Citizens from most countries will be allowed to enter for up to three months visa-free while they volunteer in Haiti. At this point, it is generally possible to obtain a visa while in the country if you wish to extend your stay. For more information on Haiti’s visa policy toward your home country, check out our Embassy Directory.
Caribbean Culture. Too often an overlooked destination within the Americas, the Caribbean Sea is home to a tremendous diversity of peoples and cultures. Haiti is certainly no exception.
Island Adventure. If you’ve never been to an island nation before, then you are in for a treat while you volunteer abroad in Haiti. The people are friendly, the culture is laid-back, and the scenery is out of this world.
Meaningful Impact. Most important of all, by making the trip abroad to volunteer in Haiti, you will be devoting your time to helping those who can benefit greatly from your work. We’re all in this together.
Joining a volunteer project in Haiti will be a life-changing adventure during which you travel to a new country and culture, knowing you’ll leave with good work done behind you. Individual volunteers may each be just a small part of an ongoing effort to rebuild Haiti, but together the global community can truly make a change in this inspiring country.
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