Come be part of something much bigger than a week-long project in Haiti as you join local Haitians in life and ministry. On your mission trip to Haiti, your team will get a glimpse of the challenges people face—including poverty, injustice, and corruption. Despite staggering unemployment rates, failed international charity efforts, and the lingering effects of the 2010 earthquake, you’ll meet Haitian people who are resilient and have found hope.
Short-term teams on Haiti mission trips have the chance to make a long-term impact by supporting ministries and local leaders who are stepping up and seeking progress for their communities. Your team will follow the lead of local Haitian staff who not only coordinate the details of mission trips but also oversee the EM Education Program in Haiti to help youth in their community through scholarships.
As your team serves through work projects and children’s ministry, you’ll be an encouragement and practical support to everyone working behind the scenes. Will you come and experience the joys and challenges of life in this unique culture?
Want to preview Mission Trips to Haiti? Check out EM Vision Trips for team leaders.
Haiti is a beautiful country characterized by miles of coastline and a scenic, mountainous interior. Sadly, much of the natural beauty is obstructed by cities with poor infrastructure and massive deforestation because of harmful farming techniques. Port-Au-Prince is especially plagued by overcrowding, and the surrounding ocean waters were negatively affected when tons of debris from the earthquake was dumped into the sea. Still, many of Haiti's more remote coastlines remain home to beautiful beaches with clear blue waters, and numerous smaller towns and mountainous villages retain much if the land's natural charm.
As with all Caribbean Islands, the weather in Haiti is typically hot. The winter months of December and January tend to be the mildest, so while it is still hot during the day it can become somewhat cool at night. There are a few remote mountainous regions that actually can be quite cool. Haiti receives a great deal of precipitation, but it is sunny most of the time. Hurricanes and tropical storms strike on occasion, and heavy rainstorms are common during much of the year.
Life for most people in Haiti is simple, and modern conveniences are limited. Most people in urban areas do have electricity, but outages are common, and the vast majority of Haitian families do not have access to running water. Often urban homes have a large underground water tank that becomes a primary source of water for cooking and bathing. In rural areas, people typically drink from wells or natural springs, and sometimes struggle to find safe drinking water. Life moves at a slower pace in Haiti, and numerous hours are devoted to simple tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Typical Haitian homes will have multiple generations or extended family living together, and there is a strong sense of community in Haitian neighborhoods.
Poverty is the norm in Haiti, and most people lack adequate access to basic commodities such as food, water, and shelter. The water supply in earthquake affected areas is universally contaminated so people are forced to purchase bottled water or the cheaper bag water. Further, many families displaced from the earthquake still do not have an adequate home. It is evident that the poor economy and political instability remain at the root of Haitian poverty, and until people have adequate opportunity for employment widespread poverty will surely remain. Employment is scarce everywhere in Haiti. In the rural areas, there is a lack of development and in Port-Au-Prince there is severe over-crowing combined with poor infrastructure. In spite of the severe needs, there is a great deal of vitality in the Haitian people, and mission teams are always overwhelmed by the energy and passion of their newfound Haitian friends.
Haitian Creole is the dominant language throughout Haiti. This is primarily French based, but it also borrows from Spanish, English, and African dialects. While it has been put into written form, Creole originated as a spoken language developed by former African slaves and to this day it is primarily a street language. Because of this French is the business language, and any educated Haitian is expected to fluently read and write in French, yet many Haitians still only speak Creole.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Haiti is 80% Catholic with most remaining Haitians split between the various protestant denominations. This being said, roughly half the population still practices Voodoo, and this maintains a significant place in Haitian society. Tracing all they way back to African religious practices, Voodoo is intricately tied to the Catholic church in Haiti, and Voodoo ceremonies and temples are common throughout the country. Typically, Haitians who practice Voodoo have strong opposition to protestant Christianity.
When Christopher Columbus discovered the New World in 1492, he landed on an island which he claimed for Spain, and it subsequently came to be known as Hispaniola. In 1697 Spain ceded the western portion of Hispaniola to France, creating the French colony of Saint-Domingue. Throughout the 18th century, Saint-Domingue developed into the leading sugar producing island, and the African slave population became vital to the expanding economy. During this French colonial phase nearly 800,000 slaves arrived, and by 1789 African slaves outnumbered the free population four to one. (Nations Online. History of Haiti)
It was during this late 18th century period that the slave population began to mount widespread resistance to French colonial rule. Rapidly growing communities of runaway slaves formed in the remote interior of the island, and they began to revolt by engaging the colonial militia and harassing slave owners. These engagements continued with little cohesion until Toussaint Louverture, a former slave, began to further organize the resistance. Next two generals named Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Henry Christophe began to assume leadership, and they were ultimately victorious in 1804. As a result, the French colony of Saint-Domingue became the independent nation of Haiti.
This was an outstanding victory for the slave resistance, and it caused grave concern among slave owners across the Caribbean and in the United States who feared their slaves would also revolt. Nonetheless, independence proved to be a challenging process. It wasn't until 1825 that France officially recognized Haiti as an independent nation, but this came at a high cost because Haiti was forced into a 100 million franc debt that was paid annually until 1887. (Encyclopedia Britannica. Haiti) In reality, this contributed to an economic void from which the nation has never fully recovered.
Plagued by economic struggles and political instability, 19th century Haiti saw multiple power changes and revolutions. Ultimately, a culture of class developed where the light-skinned French speaking (mulatto) population became the elite, and the dark-skinned people of African descent were primarily relegated to poor, working class status. (Encyclopedia Britannica, Haiti) Sadly, this distinction can still be found in Haiti today.
During the 20th century, the United States increasingly began to control Haiti, and from 1915 to 1934 Haiti was placed under US military control. Following US occupation, tensions between Haiti and the neighboring Dominican Republic increased, and there was over a decade of political jockeying by the Haitian elite which often turned violent.
In 1957 Francois Duvalier known as "Papa Doc" was elected president and so began nearly 3 decades of Duvalier rule. Papa Doc ruled until his death in 1971 when his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" took over power which he retained until he was forced into exile as a result of widespread opposition in 1986. The Duvalier era brought greater stability and improved infrastructure, so to this day many Haitians look back at it as a time of comparable prosperity. This, however, was not without a cost because the Duvalier's often used ruthless tactics to retain power, and many political opponents are reported to have died at their orders.
The younger Duvalier's exile plunged Haiti into another era of great political instability with many changes of power. While Haiti technically became a democracy and continues as such to this day, violence and accusations of corruption have made it difficult to have uncontested election results. Furthermore, the majority of Haitians remain relegated to poverty with limited access to quality education, and this has made democracy a challenge. The only natural democratic succession of power occurred when Rene Preval succeeded Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1995, but this apparent stability was short lived. The volatile political climate has ensured ongoing economic struggles and helped to keep Haiti in its position as the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
On January 12, 2010, a violent earthquake rocked Port-Au-Prince and surrounding areas leaving an estimate of over 300,000 dead and 1 million homeless. This proved utterly devastating, and as if that wasn't enough it was followed by a massive cholera outbreak nine months later in October. As a result of the earthquake, millions of dollars of foreign aid and numerous volunteers poured into Haiti, as it became a primary focus of many international relief organizations.
Q: Is the place where we are staying safe?
A: Yes. While there is always risk when traveling abroad, we make certain our housing facilities are safe. In every community where we work, we have trusted local people who are responsible to ensure team safety.
Q: How will I know where to go at the airport? Who will I meet?
A: You will be able to view specific instructions for how to go through customs & where to meet our staff at the airport in your MyMission profile once you register. We will also provide you with a phone number of our staff member on the ground that you can call should you get lost, and you can expect a call from this person the week of your trip to communicate any special details.
*When arriving in Haiti, we ask that you do not wear matching shirts that will identify you as a team. It can bring unwanted attention to you and your group.
Q: Will the items I bring be safe while we are working?
A: Yes. Your bedding and luggage etc. will be housed in a secure location; however, we strongly recommend that you do not bring anything of high value with you to Haiti as there is always a risk that things can be lost or stolen when traveling.
Q: Will the food be clean and safe?
A: Yes. We take extra precautions to ensure that the food will be safe. Our team of cooks is trained in how to prepare food that is safe for non-Haitian stomachs.
Q: Will there be clean water to drink?
A: Yes. Purified bottled drinking water will be provided for all team members at the lodging location and during the day at the worksites and ministry sites.
Q: What will I be doing on my mission trip?
A: Our trips typically consist of a mixture of highly physical construction projects and kids club. We also organize medical trips for teams with trained medical professionals. Be sure to check the details for your specific trip because individual trips may vary.
Q: What is the cell phone coverage like?
A: Some cell phone companies do have service in Haiti but the coverage is limited in rural locations. For an additional charge, you can add a temporary international calling plan to your phone. Each team member should check with their respective cell phone carrier about service and plans. We encourage teams to have at least one team member with an international plan.
Q: Is there internet access?
A: There is no reliable internet access at the facility but EM staff members will have internet access on their smartphones. EM staff members will not be able to use their phones to communicate on behalf of team members unless it is an emergency.
Q: What is the weather like?
A: Weather tends to be very hot and humid.
Q: What shots & immunizations do I need to get?
A: In addition to being up to date on all childhood vaccinations and boosters, we strongly recommend all participants check with the Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov) as well as their local physician and closely follow their directions for recommended shots & immunizations. Click here for the CDC travel page for Haiti.
Q: Do I need to purchase additional Travel Insurance?
A: Every team member must provide proof of medical insurance. All applicants should check with their personal medical insurance provider regarding international coverage. If your personal insurance will not cover you, Experience Mission strongly recommends purchasing additional travel insurance.
Short-term Travel Insurance can be purchased separately through a local insurance company.
If you cannot obtain Travel Insurance through a local provider, upon team registration we will direct you to a link for "Travel Insurance" on our website. This link will connect you and your team members to "Group International Travel Solutions," which is a travel insurance company.
Q: Are there any extra fees that I should be aware of?
A: Yes. There is a $10 tourist fee to enter Haiti. This payment must be made with cash in USD. We recommend bringing exact change for convenience.
Q: Are there any age limits for participants going to Haiti?
A: Yes. At this time, the age limit for participants is High School* age and older.
*If you have an adult team member who would like to bring their mature junior high age child, proper permission must be obtained from Experience Mission beforehand.
We will arrange safe, secure lodging for your team while you are in Haiti. The specifics of your accommodation will vary depending on your individual trip location, but in general you should be prepared to leave the comforts of home behind. Yes it will be hot, and no there won't be air conditioning but you will be catching a true glimpse of the Haitian experience.
We will have a team of Haitian cooks prepare wonderful Haitian food for your team. For most trips, you can expect to be provided sack lunches that can be brought to worksites or service locations, but then you will have a hot breakfast and supper. Most teams love the Haitian food!
Clean drinking water will be available for your team at the housing facilities 24/7, and water coolers will be available at all work sites and service locations.
All transportation while you are in Haiti is included in the cost of your trip. Our staff in Haiti will meet you at the airport with buses to transport your team to your housing location, and we will arrange similar transportation and accompany you on your return trip to the airport.
Each team member must carry a valid passport. If you do not have a valid passport, it is of the utmost importance that you apply as soon as possible. The processing time for a Passport can take several weeks once your application has been submitted. An expired Passport is not considered valid.
Petit Goave is located west of Port-Au-Prince along the coast, and even though it is the main city for its region it is relatively small. This area has long suffered from severe poverty, and it was hit hard by the earthquakes of 2010. This trip gives teams the opportunity to truly experience a typical Haitian city while serving and partnering with the local people.
This trip takes you deep into the rural mountains of Southeast Haiti where teams must be prepared to leave the comforts of home behind. There is no electricity or running water in Marchasse, and most people survive through subsistence farming in the midst of extreme poverty. Teams in Marchasse participate in practical projects to meet tangible needs in the community.
Do you have a team with trained medical professionals? If so then your assistance is needed in Haiti. Many Haitian people lack access to adequate medical care, so our medical teams assist with walk-in clinics that provide basic services to those in need. These are more specialized, so we will assign each medical team to a specific location based on their skills and the current needs in our partner communities. If you are interested in a medical trip but you don't see any dates listed, fill out an interest form and let us know the dates you want. We'll do our best to make it happen!
Note: Our medical teams will need to bring at least 1 licensed doctor and 1 licensed nurse and all necessary medical supplies/equipment. You provide the medical knowledge and we take care of the logistics.
If you're interested in bringing your group on a mission trip, fill out this quick interest form! Our staff will be in touch with you shortly to help answer your questions. Also, many questions about trips to this community are answered under Mission Trip Details & Logistics above.
Dave Bazin – EM Haiti Coordinator
Dave coordinates logistics for all EM teams in Haiti as well as our Education and Micro-loan programs. He is passionate about helping his country by serving others and living out his faith.
Jacky Augustin – EM Haiti Staff
Jacky coordinates our Kids Club ministry in Haiti, and he helps coordinate IMMERSION and mission trip teams. He loves to joke around and be the life of the party, but he is also very serious about his faith and has a big heart for others.
Roody Quilted – EM Haiti Staff
Roody assists with logistics for EM mission teams in Haiti as well as our Micro-loan program. He has a tender heart, and when he's not working for EM he loves to play soccer and hang out with his friends.
Wilson Augustin – EM Haiti Staff
Wilson assists with all of our programs in Haiti and he is committed to serving God and others. He loves physical fitness, and he does his best to make sure all of the EM Haiti staff are staying in shape.
Experience Mission has specific policies regarding registration and withdrawal. Please refer to the document below for specifics.
All volunteers on a week-long EM mission trip must be part of a team of at least six (6) people, with at least one team member age 21 or older to serve as the Team Leader. Not part of a group? All young adults ages 18-30 are eligible to apply for EMís IMMERSION program.
Mission Trips involve many details, and we know you probably have a few questions about EM mission trips.
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Your online account will allow you to access donation receipts and allocation information. After you complete your donation, a temporary username and password will be emailed to you.
You must have a group size of at least 6 members to join this trip. Please view the Small Team trips or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.
For most trips, you must have a group size of at least 6 members. Please view the Small Teams tab on each Community page or call our Servicing Department for more options at 888-475-6414.