Volunteer in Haiti
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world and if you would like to give back you can apply to volunteer in Haiti helping people and improving infrastructure, healthcare and education on the ground. Find structured, free & low cost volunteer opportunities in Haiti with international and local charities, NGO's, non-profit organisations and animal sanctuaries.
Volunteer Programs in Haiti
Why the Need for Assistance
Haiti has a population of around 10 million people and approximately half are under the age of 20 years of age - a shocking statistic. Another stat which might shock you is around 70% of Haitians live on less than $1-2 US per day! These statistics alone might convince you to volunteer and help here.
Top Reasons to Apply
- Volunteering in Haiti will be a really eye opening and life changing experience
- People live in pretty horrendous conditions but you can play a role in improving the country
- Meet like-minded volunteers from all over the world
- Escape your comfort zone and experience a totally different culture and country
- Working in Haiti will be a humbling experience which might put your life into perspective
Location of Projects
Where you are based really depends on which program you join, a lot of organisations are based in Port-au-Prince but you might be working in outreach teams. If you are worried Haiti might be a bit too much of a scary country to visit, you might want to view our other volunteer programs abroad.
Community Development Programs in Haiti
The people of Haiti have endured a lot in the past including coups, dictatorships, political instability, earthquakes and widespread poverty and you can apply to work on the ground to improve lives and infrastructure. If you work in an area like architecture, construction, education, medicine and healthcare your skills will be put to good use on the ground.
There are orphanages operational in Haiti and some accept outside help, these are usually run by religious charities - please research these placements before applying to see if they are right for you. There are also sustainable agriculture and farming projects running which allow you to help local people build facilities to help breed animals and vegetables. You will also get to teach them about nutrition and give tips on how best to grow food.
Building & Construction Volunteer Projects in Haiti
Flex your muscles and help to make a difference to the community as you provide impoverished locals with safe and secure accommodation that will give them a better standard of life. No matter what your level of experience you can help to make a huge difference to families living in homes with sugar cane and cardboard walls. Haiti housing and infrastructure is very bad compared to other destinations and there are organisations which organise group projects helping plan, build and improve housing, community facilities and schools. You might be shocked when you see some villages and towns, houses can be like shacks with haystacks for beds.
Due to poor community facilities rubbish litters most villages and animals usually wander around without segregation. Living conditions can be desperate - these placements are not for the feint hearted and can be very emotional. You might be required to get your hands dirty and get involved with all aspects of these projects including working in teams, preparing cement, building walls, painting etc. Working alongside local families, often the family you are making the house for you will get involved with everything from building new houses to rebuilding houses and making them more secure.
Medical & Healthcare Missions to Haiti
If you are training for a career in healthcare, or already work in this field then going to join a mission in Haiti can be a great way to experience the vacation of a lifetime where you will get to give back and make a big difference. Healthcare professionals are desperately needed all year round. You will get to work with a wide range of conditions including TB, Typhoid, infections, malnutrition, and other problems.
Sometimes you will be treating young children or adults throughout the country and due to the hot weather and poor water facilities dehydration can be a common problem. There are rural clinics and also placements in hospitals in the larger towns and cities, you will be busy and need to be able to adapt to new surroundings to successfully help, the conditions and facilities might be very basic compared to what you are used to.
Teaching & Sports Coaching Programs in Haiti
If you are keen to intern in Haiti then apply to teach or help fun sport programs in Haiti. Education is key to a better future for Haiti, you can play an active role in helping children fulfil potential and give them a good chance of gaining employment and securing a positive outcome. A lot of international companies and charities fund a lot of schools in Haiti and this is usually where you will be based, you will work alongside experienced volunteers and local teachers, creativity is welcomed especially when resources and facilities are very basic.
Be sure to plan and pack ahead, you might want to take certain things with you e.g. chalk, pens, pencils, writing books and pictures - all will come in useful when you arrive. Sports which are popular include basketball and soccer but you do not need to be a pro to lead lessons, all levels and abilities are welcomed to join. Sometimes games are organised during school hours but it is common to find children playing after school too. These placements are a lot of fun and a great way to interact with Haitian youngsters.
Humanitarian Work & Earthquake Disaster Relief Projects in Haiti
An estimated three million people were affected by the devastating 7.0 Mw earthquake which hit Haiti on the 12th January 2010. Over 250,000 people were killed, infrastructure on the ground was devastated and thousands of people were left homeless as a result. International charities have been working to improve things on the ground and there are several ways of getting involved and helping. From giving donations, fundraising, helping at the headquarters of a local aid organisation or even volunteering in Haiti.
The following organisations are seeking help from volunteers:
- Aides International - The Ministries of Aides International Inc has over 20 years of experience working in Haiti. Now we are working toward bringing over 100 doctors, nurses and other medical personnel in Haiti to care and help out the victims of the 7.0 magnitude Earthquake.
- The American Refugee Committee International - ARC accepts volunteers/interns for positions at our overseas locations and in our headquarters office in Minneapolis.
- The Anir Experience - Assembling three teams of volunteers to travel to Haiti. Teams will be 15 members each for either construction, first-aid/health care or child care.
- The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee - If you are a Canadian or U.S. Christian interested in volunteering with the agencies of the Christian Reformed Church and their partners, you need only to make one call: to ServiceLink. Are you willing to serve but aren’t sure where or how? Staff can direct you to ministries that may have a need for the kind of gifts and talents you have to offer.
- Endeavor to Develop Education-Haiti - Our main effort is to raise funds to provide schooling for children, and to do this we need your financial contributions. In addition, we need people who are willing to get involved in this great effort.
- Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) - A non-profit, nondenominational Christian charity. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action worldwide.
- InterAction - Browse organizations involved with helping in Haiti. Through InterAction, organizations and individuals help shape the direction of the U.S. humanitarian and development efforts, from leveraging resources, developing effective partnerships, determining norms of aid effectiveness and protecting the space and environment in which we operate.
- The International Medical Corps - International Medical Corps helps the world's vulnerable communities transition from relief to self-reliance. Your support saves lives and builds healthier, brighter futures for people affected by conflict, disease, poverty and natural disaster.
- National Nurses United - If you are a nurse you can join over 7,000 registered nurses who have already answered the call from their union, the National Nurses United, to volunteer in Haiti.
- New Reality International - NRI is seeking volunteers on an ongoing basis. If you are interested in any of the available opportunities please email or post a comment on our bulletin board. Please list your skills, availability, and contact info.
- Partners in Health - In the next three months, we expect to be able to meet our clinical needs on the ground through existing partnerships we have established with institutions that are able to deploy teams of individuals on short notice and to our changing specifications. In addition, our need for Kreyol-speaking health professionals is great, so we are working with those partners to prioritize the involvement of Haitian-Americans.
- Red Cross - Although you maybe not be able to visit Haiti and help, contact your local Red Cross office and see if you can offer any assistance.
- Visions in Action - Committed to achieving social and economic justice in the developing world through grassroots programs and communities of self-reliant volunteers. This is accomplished through our classic volunteer program, which supports NGOs in our program countries, and through our supported volunteer program, which staffs our development programs.
- World Hope International - WHI exists because of God's clear mandate for His followers to help people in need.
Most organisations will require you to:
- Be aged 18 and older
- Complete an application form
- Have enough money to pay for flights and in-country expenses
- Be able to speak English and sometimes have basic French language skills (having Haitian Creole is a really benefit)
- There are both skilled and non-skilled placements available
- This country is especially popular with US and Canadian citizens, but people from all around the world apply every year
- You will need to be flexible, helpful, be able to work in teams under guidance and be open to the challenge
Is It Safe to Visit/Volunteer in Haiti?
Before arriving you will need to get the right immunizations and vaccinations. Crime and poverty is a massive problem and it is recommended not to go out at night especially by yourself, many people live in desperate conditions and so flashing expensive jewellery and goods is not recommended. Please note even though there is high poverty, most Haitians you encounter will be extremely friendly especially the children especially when they hear why you are there.
On arrival you will be given full safety information, always listen to local staff for their advice and recommendations. We recommend you do not drink the tap water in Haiti including ice cubes - this can be a big form of stomach problems due to the bacteria. Try to avoid street food vendors too and buy new bottled water. Pack diarrhoea tablets and rehydration sachets as this might come in handy once in country. If you are still keen to help but not sure Haiti is your destination search more volunteer programs in Central America.
Housing can include guest houses, dormitories, group living and private facilities. Usually you will stay with, or close to other participants. Home-stays are not widely available here. Usually you will have shared kitchens and bathrooms, and rooms to sleep can include multiple beds or bunk-beds but this really depends on the organisation. Living conditions can be basic and you will need to get used to live without normal everyday things like satellite televisions and high speed internet.
What to Expect
Usually you will work around 5-8 hours per day 5 days per week but this can vary depending on the placement. Programs and volunteer internships can vary. We highly recommend you learn basic pharses in French, Creole or Spanish as only a small number of people speak English. You could combine experiences and study Spanish in Central America at the same time.
What kind of difference can you make? Well, Haiti is a country with big problems and not all these will be solved by you volunteering but every little bit helps. Please don't expect the whole experience to be easy or organised, day to day life and programs can change a lot. If you are wondering what it is like to work in Haiti in a volunteer capacity read on for more information.
How to Volunteer in Haiti
You can apply in advance through our website and join every month. There is no best time to apply and some organisations will require a minimum join time, for example 2 weeks or 3 months+. Most placements are organised with groups arriving throughout the year, these are a safe way to experience the island and give back.
Just turning up and trying to find free volunteering opportunities is not recommended, this country has severe poverty and crime is a big issues. You can search and contact the organisations we have listed today for more information or to apply. Some organisations offer structured placements where you will need to pay a joining fee, the cost usually includes:
- In-country staff support
- Arrival orientation/training
- Food & housing
- In-country transportation
- The price usually does not include airfare, insurance and other costs.
Haiti Volunteer Reviews & Tesimontials
If you have ever volunteered in Haiti and would like to share your experiences, review your program or give advice to future participants please contact us.