So often I hear this from people (normally in an email) “I have always wanted to go to Haiti. Can you help me know where to go and what to do?” I hate these emails because honestly I have no clue how to answer that email. Haiti for sure changed our lives and the trajectory of our family, but I'm not comfortable recommending people to travel there just to hold some babies and help build some houses.
I asked my friend Tara for her thoughts on this and lucky for you and I she has written a post about just this. So of course I asked if I could steal it from her and post it here.
I hope this helps answer your questions about going to Haiti and who can host you. This was originally posted to her blog on 12/30/09.
Haiti is a place that will change your life. It has certainly changed ours. We think there is value to visiting a culture and land different than your own and learning more about your neighbors around the globe.
We're not personally huge fans of the traditional model of Short Term Missions – we've written about that a number of places, so we won't reiterate here.
If you can come open to learning from Haitians and without a lot of expectations, we encourage you to consider coming to Haiti. If you are coming to Haiti to fix something or someone, we think you'll go home frustrated and probably either annoy or hurt the people you hope to visit/serve. The Haitian people are brilliant and hospitable. They have things to teach us.
If you are considering visiting a developing country we urge you to read “When Helping Hurts” and “Toxic Charity” prior to your trip. It will help you to understand some of the problems of short-term missions and allow you to avoid the common pitfalls.
We currently do not host teams in our home. We live in a regular single family home and are raising boat loads of children and it is not possible at this time for us to host you in our home – mostly due to space and energy and the many, many children.
Occasionally readers write and ask to come check out what we do and to stay with us. We don't want to appear rude (maybe we are? if so. okay, we're rude) but we feel it is in the best interest of our family to keep these boundaries around our home and family time. We don't host people we don't know in our home. We'll bump into you during the work day but our nights and our home are reserved for our family, close friends, and immediate family to visit.
We work only with Heartline Ministries at this time. Heartline Ministries does host a couple of teams a year but we don't host teams as a regular practice. As a general rule we don't have enough things to keep volunteers busy. Sometimes hosting teams can take away from our ability to serve the people of Haiti well … and divides our attention.
Many ministries use teams as a way to increase their income and to fund their programs, those are the ministries you'll find offering dozens of team trips each year.
Here are just a few ministries in Haiti that often welcome/host teams:
(this is not a recommendation or personal endorsement, just places that host teams frequently)
Mission of Hope
NW Haiti Christian Mission
Children's Int'l Lifeline
Haitian Childrens Home
**June 2014 Update – Currently Haiti has a mosquito born virus moving through the country. 100% of our household has had it.
Most in Port au Prince have had it or know someone that has.
Please read up on Chikungunya before you decide to come and come prepared. See this link. There are medicines you can take to prevent Malaria (a parasite) but there are no medicines you can take to prevent Dengue Fever or Chikungunya Fever (viruses).
I just hosted a group of visitors with Compassion and a few definitely came home with Chikungunya. Keep bug spray on. Despite that, it was a great trip to see the impact that sponsors are having on children, families and communities through the local church. Powerful.
I wish I would visit Haiti in my life