iFlyLOTs From United States of America, joined Apr 2012, 381 posts, RR: 0 Posted (6 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 932 times:
In about a month and a half time I will be boarding a plane bound for Haiti on a mission trip. I've been out of the country before but never to a place like this, and I've been kind of wondering what I should expect. Last winter I went on a similar trip to Tijuana. Is Haiti going to be completely different? I mean I know that there will be some differences like in Tijuana I was building a house and in Haiti I'll be working in an orphanage, but outside if that what should I expect?
RussianJet From Kazakhstan, joined Jul 2007, 6296 posts, RR: 23 Reply 1, posted (6 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 932 times:
Your question is inherently so broad it is hard to know where to start. I am not personally familiar with Haiti, but I am pretty sure you'll see and feel a massive difference from Mexico. Just prepare yourself for severe povertyand vverybbasic conditions, and go into it with a very open mind. With any luck you'll meet some great people and have some positively life-changing experiences.
Geezer From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 1428 posts, RR: 1 Reply 5, posted (6 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 932 times:
Quoting Superfly (Reply 2): I was there back in 1989.
Very poor place. Extreme poverty. That's really all I can say. It's been a while and nothing has changed since from what I hear.
It's been even longer than that since I was there, but 'Fly is "right on" about the conditions; terrible, terrible conditions; every bit as bad as many places in Africa. And from what I hear, after all of the devastation from the huge storm a few years back, not much has been "put back together".
Your inquiry made me think of one story I read a few years back, written by a journalist I believe, about conditions in Haiti; While driving around, the car they were in got stuck in some mud, (something like that), and they had no idea where (or how) to find a tow truck to pull the thing out of the mud; One fellow who was a veteran traveler and who was very familiar with Haiti, told them this: "anytime you are traveling in Haiti, ALWAYS carry a roll of dimes; (plain old U.S. "no silver anymore" dimes;") Then, if you have ANY kind of a problem which requires some "manpower", you can ALWAYS find dozens of "volunteers", and when you give each one of them a U.S. dime, it's like handing out ten dollar bills in the U.S.
The extreme poverty in Haiti is just that bad. (so be sure to take a couple of rolls of dimes with you !) (and God-Bless you for being such a good person.)
Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein
francoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3196 posts, RR: 10 Reply 6, posted (6 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 932 times:
Where in Haiti will you be?
Port au Prince, Cap Haitien, another area?
You'll meet some great people, it's also a very dangerous place. Missionaries, and foreigners generally, aren't usually targeted by local violence. Still, stay on friendly basis with everybody and maintain a low profile.
Yes, it's very poor. It will be a real life experience. You'll also find that despite poverty and misery, people manage to keep smiles on their faces and a positive attitude.
You'll probably also get immense frustrations. Nothing really works properly there. I hope you are patient and forgiving.
Your help there will be appreciated, even if you might sometimes get the feeling it's taken for granted.
Enjoy the experience!
Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
flymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 6298 posts, RR: 6 Reply 7, posted (6 months 1 week 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 932 times:
I don't think Mexico and Haiti can compare, Haiti is the poorest country in the America's the poverty there is crazy. There are some problems with violence also but I would say for a visitor it is not like some of the border towns of Mexico or something like that just be careful. Haiti is full of diesases also make sure to practice the best hygienic care you can. I never been to Haiti but I live here in Miami where hundreds of thousands of Haitians live and they are friendly hard working people. The country has always had its problems but ever since the earthquake in 2010 it has been just devastation over there so prepare for that.
What city will you be in?
"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
iFlyLOTs From United States of America, joined Apr 2012, 381 posts, RR: 0 Reply 8, posted (6 months 1 week 23 hours ago) and read 934 times:
I'm going to be at an orphanage in Port Au Prince, and thank you every one for sharing your experiences! I really can't wait to go there, I'll be sure to take pictures and post in the trip report forum!
AviRaider From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 163 posts, RR: 0 Reply 9, posted (5 months 3 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 707 times:
I've only been to a resort by cruise ship on the northern part of the island of Haiti. So I was pretty much sheltered from the squalor. I even felt bad about being there knowing that there is so much misery and poor living conditions, this was also right after their devestating earthquake in the south. But, I remembered that the resort provided jobs and money into the economy and was easier to accept. With that being said, every Haitian I found was friendly and helpful. While there, we were reminded to tip for everything, a dollar here and there goes along way there. That small token for me was a blessing to the man or woman I gave it to, and they couldn't stop saying thank you in some cases. It really has peaked my interest in the country and I would like to go back and do some actual missionary and humanitarian work on the ground.
luckyone From United States of America, joined Aug 2008, 1587 posts, RR: 0 Reply 10, posted (5 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 656 times:
I've never been to Haiti, but I have lived in one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean. Here's my experience: Most people have very little, but they are proud. They have all the time in the world to talk with you and think nothing of doing so. It is very easy to completely lose track of time and purpose, but it can be fun.
As for food, unless you have a cast iron stomach a good rule of thumb is if you didn't see it come off the heat source do.not.eat.it unless it is a fruit. Even more important is only drink bottled water. Spend the extra money on it. Several friends of mine never had problems eating whatever they wanted and drinking water straight out of the tap. I myself had several nasty bouts of Montezuma's revenge until I adopted my heat-source rule, and I never could adjust to drinking the tap water.
Rules for infection are important. People are not vaccinated to the same degree you are, and other diseases are indigenous to the area and you have no natural immunity to them, unlike the people who live there. Read up on Dengue Fever and Malaria and understand what could happen to you, and just keep aware. It shouldn't be a problem, but it does happen. Safe sex goes without question just about anywhere these days, but HIV/AIDS is a significant problem in the Caribbean, and it carries a much stronger social stigma than it does in the States.
YVRLTN From Canada, joined Oct 2006, 2095 posts, RR: 0 Reply 11, posted (5 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 634 times:
I have not been to Haiti, but I have been to several places in Africa.
Quoting luckyone (Reply 11): As for food, unless you have a cast iron stomach a good rule of thumb is if you didn't see it come off the heat source do.not.eat.it unless it is a fruit. Even more important is only drink bottled water. Spend the extra money on it. Several friends of mine never had problems eating whatever they wanted and drinking water straight out of the tap. I myself had several nasty bouts of Montezuma's revenge until I adopted my heat-source rule, and I never could adjust to drinking the tap water.
This is good advise - to add to it:
Avoid ice cubes in drinks - you dont know where the water came from
Avoid salads or anything else maybe washed in water - as above
Look out for bottled water with broken seals - not unheard of for bottles to be reused and filled from dodgy sources
Get immunized against every disease known to mankind... have the shots at least a week before you go, they can make you feel pretty rough
There is no vaccine for malaria (AFAIK, maybe that has changed in the last couple of yeras) but consult your clinic on the best tablets. There is nothing that can offer 100% protection, but I took malarone, which I think is 95%
Buy a strong deet bug repellent - dont let those mossies get to you in the first place
Bring or buy a bottle of strong liquor like brandy - take a swig each night, its a natural bacteria killer
Do not wear a watch or jewellery or carry any valuables you dont have to - they are not out to get "white guys" or Americans but they are so poor that in desperation they may see you as a source of a quick few bucks
Be wise when giving out cash - $5 may be pocket change to us, but they can go nuts with that sort of money handed to them and the chances of them spending it wisely are not guaranteed. If possible, see if you can buy something for them they need rather than giving out cash
Stay with your group or at least a trusted local who knows the ropes - dont venture off on your own, particularly at dark
These people are very poor, so remember they have none of the luxuries you have - even nice clothes, particularly obviously designer brands and any show of "wealth" can be offensive. Forget about not having the latest Xbox or even movie on DVD - a lot of these folk dont have electricity.
Life is very simple but I found while they do not have the quality of things in life, many do have quality of life inasmuch as they value what they do have so much more like their family, community and natural surroundings far more than we do (speaking for myself anyway).
Enjoy - it will be an amazing experience and one you wont regret if you are sensible, above is all common sense stuff.