Discover Haiti, Rediscover Yourself!

By Volunteers for Peace   Reviews (10)   85% Rating

Vermont-based Volunteers For Peace has been collaborating with community and grassroots organizations in Haiti for over 15 years! Our focus is on education, clean water, and the environment through the lens of cultural exchange. Our project work to empower local leaders, provide meaningful activities for children, and leave behind sustainable projects in the community.

VFP offers projects around the year ranging from 1 week to 3 months. We also work with community, educational, and family groups in the USA to develop custom projects to meet their goals and skills.

Our Summer Day Camps are offered in four locations in Haiti. In 2014, we provided enrichment activities to more than 800 children.

One of our initiatives for 2015 is to work with community organization to sprout and plant coffee and other trees. This project will increase sustainable revenue streams in rural areas and help reforest Haiti.

Visit our Volunteer Project List for specific project dates and information.

Program Info

Location: 
  • Haiti
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
2-4 weeks
1-3 months
Cost: 
$0 - $500 (USD)
See Additional Information
Cost Description: 

The registration fee is $500 ($650 if you are under 18 years old). If you are not accepted into a project, we will refund the full fee to you! This cost includes the placement process, food, accommodation, leadership and work materials for your program. Volunteers arrange and pay for their own transportation to and from the project.

Projects in Haiti also have an extra fee to help subsidize the cost of the program.

Languages: 
English
French
Housing: 
Hotels
Volunteer House
Travel: 
Participants travel to the program independently (not in a group with other participants).
Application: 
Online Application
Phone / Skype Interview

Videos

Program Reviews (10)

85%
Positive
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  • Impact
    82%
  • Support
    86%
  • Fun
    86%
  • Value
    86%
  • Safety
    83%
  • Jennifer Reese
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    Fulton, NY
    State University of New York at Oswego
    An eye opening experience!
    05/15/2015

    It was truly an amazing experience. We were able to introduce students to something they would never be able to experience. Our leader was extremely knowledgeable about the life and culture of the people of Haiti. Unfortunately she was only with us about 1/2 the time. Although there were Haitians with us they did not provide as much information. When you asked questions they were often confused by what we were asking. It would have been extremely helpful if our leader had spent more time with us.

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  • Karen Garcia
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    United States
    California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
    Summer In Haiti
    04/29/2015

    My trip to Haiti was a three week excursion in Port-Au-Prince. I spent my mornings working for a summer day camp in Petionville about thirty minutes outside of Port-Au-Prince teaching around 30-40 children basic math in both Creole and English as well as English and grammar. On the weekends we spent our days exploring the ins and outs of the city as well as a beach day at Wahoo. My trip was an amazing experience I recommend it to anyone who it will ing to step outside of their comfort zone.

    How could this program be improved?

    I understand the level of precautions that needed to be made because I was in the city, but maybe just some more activities to do each day besides visit the school. I enjoyed going to the Iron Market, the church, the hotel and Wahoo Bay, but there was often not a lot to do except for on the weekends!

    Photos:
    Summer school in Petionville
    The Iron Market!
    Such vibrant souls
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  • Steven C.
    Age: 25-30
    Male
    Boston, Massachusetts
    VFP, sound choice for new and experienced volunteers!
    02/10/2015

    This past summer I traveled with Volunteers For Peace to La Vallee de Jacmel for a week. I spent many months searching for the right program for me and after discussing with many sources, familiar with volunteer programs, I was encouraged to travel with VFP. I was equip with the tools to make my first journey to Haiti a memorable and productive one. With A mandatory pre-trip orientation with others I'd be traveling with, it was obvious Meg and others at VFP care about the safety of their volunteers and ensuring they get the most out of the abroad program.
    VFP's demonstrations of care did not cease when we left the United States and arrived in Port at Prince. I was greeted at the airport by Meg and a fellow Haitian named Shelly whom she encourages to help lead volunteers in programs in other parts of Haiti. VFP provides work opportunities for locals which gives volunteers a direct link to the communities they will be helping. There is also a priceless chance to speak with these Haitian leaders and have ongoing cultural exchange every second of the trip.
    In La Vallee our group stayed in clean accommodations and had the opportunity to be involved in the day to day ongoings with our hosts. VFP encouraged but never pushed that we be involved in the daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning. Being abroad meant learning about the lifestyle others lead and having opportunies to cook or assit with cooking or collecting water or going to the market was a priceless experience.
    We also had great Haitian leaders in La Vallee, like Jean Raymond, a history teacher in a near by school. VFP appears to place a great deal of trust in their Haitian leaders teaching them sustainability and communication with the volunteers and allowing them the opportunity to develop planning and goal setting skills. Meg was always available to assist in keeping the projects on track, but allowed the Haitian leaders, like Jean Raymond, to learn how to lead others.
    I was involved in projects like installing biosand water filters in an ongoing project to bring clean water to some 70 schools in La Vallee. VFP has made progress on nearly 35 in the region. We also shared songs and games with school children and were involved in a beautification project at a community center and local church. The week we were volunteering happened to also coincide with the visitation of the Cardinal of Haiti, Cardinal Chibly Langlois, who was born in La Vallee.
    This was only my first trip to Haiti, yet I was ready to return back even before I left Port au Prince to head home. The preparations before the trip and guidance during have cemented in my mind that programs like Volunteers for Peace can make a change in communities and countries like Haiti. They lead their volunteers with years of experience and encourage locals to take leadership roles in the projects accomplished during the visits. All that being said, I am returning again this April 20-28 with other volunteers under the guidance and program placement of Volunteers for Peace. I am certainly a returning member of the VFP family!

    How could this program be improved?

    Our ability to communicate with family back home. Though we were well informed that it would be difficult, but in the event of an emergency it could be accomplished with the help of our leaders.

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  • Sippel
    Age: 51 or older
    Female
    Oregon
    University of California- Riverside
    Very Disappointing Volunteer Experience
    01/23/2015

    Our group was made of 21 very special, talented, energetic volunteers who came expecting to make a contribution to the community and to learn and interact with the Haitian people. We were quite disappointed that this did not occur. The director of our project appeared to be disinterested in us as a group. There was very little interaction with the director or direction from her. Many of the scheduled activities were canceled. We did not make connections in the community or feel any partnerships with other organizations. While we were scheduled to be there for 2 weeks several of us decided to leave after the first week due to the lack of leadership and disorganization. I would not, at this time recommend this project to other volunteers.

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  • Barbara
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Norwich University
    Men anpil, chay pa lou...
    10/04/2014

    My trip to Haiti was spur of the moment, and I don't regret for a day of stepping foot on this 'hidden gem'. During the service learning project, I participated in a Christmas party for the elderly, building "tippy taps" and bio-sand water filters at a local school, hosting a 2-day camp for the school children during their vacation week, helping set up the Festikap, painting a mural, cooked a Haitian meal, and many other cultural exchange activities. "Men anpil, chay pa lou" is a Haitian proverb that translates to "Many hands make the load lighter". I was most impressed with the relationship that VFP has with Haitian communities. It made the trip meaningful because we were gracefully welcomed and we were worked alongside the residents of La Vallee de Jacmel on projects they were already working on in their communities. A highlight from my trip was celebrating Festikap, the festival of creativity and ideas, where people of all corners paraded to a hilltop and flew handmade kites, danced, ate, and were joyous. One thing I forgot to bring was a soccer ball- Haiti loves their futbol :)

    How could this program be improved?

    The language barrier was the biggest challenge for me during my trip but that was to be expected. I would have liked some more language prep to have a basic understanding of Haitian Creole. However, playing charades is always fun!

    Photos:
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  • Joe
    Age: 31-50
    Male
    Upstate, New York
    State University of New York at Potsdam
    At home in Haiti: Thanksgiving
    01/25/2013

    For the first time in my life I didn't spend Thanksgiving with my family. Instead, this year I chose to spend the week in La Valle de Jacmel, Haiti with Volunteers for Peace (VFP).

    Our group consisted of eleven volunteers who originated from several different states, as well as two volunteers from China. We ranged in ages from 15 to 57. Our group stayed at CODEHA, which is VFP's local partner organization. During the daylight hours we spent our time in the CODEHA garden fixing and building its perimeter fence, planting plantain and coffee plants, sprucing up the grounds of CODEHA through litter pick up and debris removal, providing cultural exchanges in several local schools, meeting and doing activities regarding litter, clean water and hygiene with a youth club, and helping to prepare meals in the CODEHA kitchen. Evenings generally began with a group dinner, after which we spent time visiting, sharing, and playing games with each other and many of the locals who came to meet us throughout the week.

    From the moment I stepped off of the plane in Port au Prince I felt welcomed in Haiti. Every individual I interacted with was kind, helpful, polite, friendly, and eager to share. Every place we went we were accompanied by a local who has ties to CODEHA and/or VFP. This provided an added sense of comfort and security. Our daily "guides" assisted with getting us to our destinations as well as the language difference.

    As I mentioned, spending the Thanksgiving week in Haiti was the first time I would be away from my family for the holiday. Turns out, I really wasn't away from family. I was actually just with a new family. A family consisting of wonderful VFP volunteers and amazing people from the extended CODEHA community. Never once did I feel like I should be anywhere else but exactly where I was.

    Simply put, this experience was incredible. I was already missing my time in Haiti before I even boarded the plane for home. I would say I hope to return to Haiti, La Valle de Jacmel, and CODEHA someday, but it's more than hope. Instead, I say: I WILL return someday!

    How could this program be improved?

    Given our short stay (one week), it was difficult to get as much accomplished as most of the people in our group would have liked. I think I would change how the goals of the week are laid out. For instance, keep some of the schedule open for flexibility, but also have set, concrete goals scheduled in. That way, at the end of the program everyone can have a clear sense of accomplishment. While everyone in our group seemed to thoroughly enjoy their time and experience, I think most left with a feeling as if they didn't do enough.

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  • tori.houston
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Burlington, Vermont
    Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing
    Haiti: Circle of Friends
    03/12/2012

    This was my first international volunteer trip, and I am so very grateful for the experience I gained from it. Because the program was small, only 3 volunteers at the time I was there, I was able to have incredible hands-on experience. We travelled through the streets of Port-Au-Prince, and shopped in the markets on Rue Frere. I also got to spend invaluable one-on-one time with the children and really get to learn who they are, and about their quirks. I would absolutely recommend this trip, and organization to anyone interested in seeing what Haiti is truly about.

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  • Namaste
    Age: 19-24
    Female
    Spokane Wa
    Eastern Washington University
    "Discovering Namaste"
    11/01/2011

    Beginning my trip from Spokane WA to Haiti, I took out my journal and wrote boldly, "Discovering Namaste." Namaste' is a beautiful Hindu expression upon greeting or departing meaning "the divine in me honors the divine in you." A phrase I often heard throughout my yoga practice, but not one I could explain fully the depth of its meaning. To "discover namaste" became my mission throughout this journey.

    A typical day started out by walking up to roosters crowing and goats "naaahhhing" (or whatever it is that goats do) a little before sunrise. With the sun, I got up and found a nice quiet spot either on the hill side or roof to practice yoga. A main goal of my trip was to delve further into the self-discovery. There were many sights, beautiful and not, that challenged me to carefully analyze your role in this world and how to work for the common good. Discussion around similar topics were frequent between all the volunteers. I am choosing now not to go much further regarding the day to day experience, because I feel the interactions with individuals hold the most weight.

    I have never met such a group of people with the same passion and motivation to fight for the common good. The energy was exhilarating and the company enlightening. The bonds we formed on this trip will stay with me for the rest of my life. I adore each person I had the opportunity to connect with. I think about the friends I made there everyday and everyday, I miss them. The other international volunteers, Haitian volunteers, and Haitian children all the same all hold more room in my heart than I thought was available. Each person and child has so much beauty and kindness to add to the world. I cannot wait to go back and see more.

    Namaste'

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  • Meg
    Age: 31-50
    Female
    Vermont
    University of Vermont
    Haiti Was a Life Changing Experience
    08/19/2011

    I volunteered as part of VFP summer camp for kids in LaVallee Haiti. We often forget there are places in the world, lots of them, where people don't have electricity, running water, TV, newspapers... In these places the local people only know what they see. It was amazing for me to experience this first hand. To slow down and live in the moment with Haitians. To enjoy being close to the earth and to my food. To take time to have true personal interactions and to know the value of them, for myself and the Haitians, was very high because they were the news and the world and the future. I went to one of the poorest places I have ever been and I found some of the richest people in the world. CODEHA (VFP's partner) is located in the middle of a lush, agricultural region but it is really remote. It is very safe there because everyone knows CODEHA and VFP and wants to meet them and take care of them. The children are beautiful, inquisitive, friendly and want to know everything about the world outside of their little region. We played, sang songs, did art projects, and just hung out together. At CODEHA there was opportunity to volunteer in the kitchen or the garden and really understand what life is like there. Do you know how long it takes to clean corn, or sort beans, or make cocoa from scratch? The area is green. It is very noisy but mostly animal sounds. It is completely peaceful and the perfect place to rejuvenate and reflect while giving back. It was amazing and I eagerly await my next visit.

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  • mountains&sky
    Age: 25-30
    Female
    Vermont
    Volunteer in Haiti? Yes, please
    08/19/2011

    Volunteering in La Vallee de Jacmel with Volunteers For Peace and CODEHA was one of the highlights of my year! Volunteers worked with community organization, CODEHA, to help local volunteers run a first-ever summer camp for 1000 kids in 5 locations. The impact on the community was positive, the interaction with other volunteers fun, the landscape gorgeous, and the Haitian culture inspiring. I can't wait to go back!

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Alumni Interviews

  • Day in the Life of Joe - VFP in Haiti

    Highlights: I have a hard time coming up with an answer when asked what I liked the most about Haiti or what the highlight of this trip was. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every moment from the time I stepped off the plane in Port au Prince to the time I stepped back on the plane nine days later. The entire experience was simply amazing. Every individual I encountered--from our volunteer group, to our hosts, to the locals--were friendly, welcoming, interesting, giving, and good hearted people. During our many walks into neighboring towns it wouldn't take long for others to share a smile, wave a hand, or even walk alongside us and visit. While at the schools the kids lit up their classrooms with their smiles and laughter. The moments spent during meals and group activities were engaging, lighthearted and very seldom dull. Not once during my stay in Haiti did I feel I needed or wanted to be anywhere else but exactly where I was in that moment.

    Morning:Any given morning one awakes to a chorus of animals "talking" to each other, including roosters crowing, donkeys hee-hawing, goats blatting, dogs barking, and cows mooing. Mornings began with breakfast that was made up of our volunteer group as well as a few of the locals who would likely be with us for the day. The breakfast was a light and always included homemade hot cocoa, coffee, and ginger tea. It was a time to share our own stories or listen to the stories of the locals who were with us. We also took this time to go over the plans for the day in regards to where we would be going and what everyone would be doing. Generally, most of the mornings were spent together as a group. For example, one morning we all worked together planting coffee plants and plantain trees while another morning we worked together on projects for the schools we would be going to.

    Afternoon:Each day we would gather again for a simple meal at lunch time. We would enjoy homemade soup, rice, or noodles along with fresh bakery bought breads and rolls. Lunch was another time for sharing with each other, learning about and from each other. On our first day we shared this meal with a local youth group whose focus is on clean water projects and hygiene education. After eating, the afternoons usually found our group split into smaller teams who spread out to work on different projects. Examples include working in the garden, going into the schools, staying with our hosts to help in the kitchen to prepare our evening meal, cleaning up the grounds of where we were staying, traveling to the market, and completing fence repairs and installation. It was great to work alongside the people of Haiti; a chance to learn and teach.

    Joe exploring Haiti!
    Joe exploring Haiti!

    Evening: After spending the afternoons split up from the main group, we would come back together to kick off our evenings with the large meal of the day. Our hosts spent a large part of their day, with the help of a couple of us volunteers, to prepare this meal for our group and whoever else showed up to join us. Typically during this meal we would be joined by at least a half dozen others. These meals had us eating rice, beans, corn, cabbage salad, beet salad, chicken, goat, and plantains. After eating we would simply relax and enjoy each other's company. Some nights included music, such as when a local band came to play as a way to celebrate our group leader's birthday. We would also engage in games, team building activities, and cultural exchanges. We often received impromptu lessons in the local language and reciprocated by giving lessons or our own. It was a pleasure to hear the many stories shared by our hosts, visitors, and fellow volunteers.

  • Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with VFP in Haiti?

    Tasia: It was 3:30am; I was lying awake counting the glow-in-the-dark stars on my ceiling and thinking about what would make an extraordinary life. Earlier that day in a conversation around wellbeing, happiness, and summer plans a friend had said, "Think about your 90th birthday and all the years you've put behind you. What advice would your 90 year-old self give you about how to live life?" After thinking about it less than a second the words came out, "Make it extraordinary." Now, I was laying awake thinking, "what does an extraordinary life look like?" I thought of my sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, and our core values-love, labor, learning, and loyalty. I decided I wanted to fight for a common good, while building relationships, and experiencing a cultural exchange. An international service project fit that criterion.

    I Google searched 'international volunteer programs' and Volunteers for Peace was the first organization I came across that was affordable on my student budget. After Googling any combination of Volunteers for Peace with "fraud, scam, disaster, etc." and finding zero results- I decided VFP was the one! I check out their Facebook page and inquired about a post regarding a project in Haiti for a kids' camp. VFP staff member, Chelsea wrote back instantly and I got good vibes from her. That's when I knew- a volunteer trip with VFP going to Haiti to interact with kids couldn't be anything less than extraordinary!

    Tasia Duske, VFP volunteer program alum in Haiti
    Tasia Duske, VFP volunteer program alum in Haiti

    What made volunteering in Haiti a unique and special experience?

    Tasia: I'm dividing day to day activities into two categories: the week days at our kids' camp in LaVoutte and the weekends at CODEHA.

    On average there were 4 international volunteers, including myself, working at the kids' camp in LaVoute. LaVoute was about 1 hour away from CODEHA (the community center that acted as our home base) and we left around mid-morning on Mondays to get there. Some traveled by car, while I always choose to ride on a motorcycle with a local volunteer. The drive was beautiful and exciting on the back of a bike. Once there, we set up our beds and luggage in an emptied classroom and went to play with the kids.

    Our camp was the pilot school for the "Clean Water for LaVallee" project and the teachers were taking a Community Health Promoter training, therefore we had a lot of freedom of what to do with the kids. We enjoyed playing circle dancing/singing games, doing yoga, duck duck goose, painting, and one volunteer even brought recorders for the kids to play music on.

    As anyone that's been around kids knows, it takes a lot of energy to play with and entertain just one. Now think about 100 kids ages 4-16 and as you can imagine at times it was a little crazy. I'll paint you one picture: I was the only female at my camp so all the girls like to hangout with me. Personal space is different than the US- everyone is always in your bubble. I didn't speak much Creole and they didn't speak much English so communication was in gestures. Now one day I was making bracelets with the kids. There were 20+ kids in a 10 foot radius from me and we are all sweating in the hot sun. 40+ little hands were all over me and the supplies, pointing and poking while saying my name "Tasia! Tasia! Tasia!" I had my arms full of supplies trying to divvy it all out when one little girl decides she wants to braid my hair so she takes out my pony-tail and begins running her hands all through it. Just then a group of young boys comes around the corner tooting on recorders they'd gotten from Mark, another volunteer. "Toot, squuuuel, Tasia! Sqeuuuuk, Tasia, Tasia squeak!" etc, etc. As you can tell, it was a little hectic, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world. It was clear we're making an impact on them and vice versa.

    A moment I'll never forget- I'm a yoga instructor and did several yoga activities with the children. One evening after camp we were walking around the town and a little girl, Liz, came up and "Tasia! Warrior I (went into Warrior I pose), Warrior II (pose), Triangle (pose), Mountain! (pose)." It was so beautiful. Moments like that, make all the craziness worthwhile.

    The camp concluded around 4pm when the children went home. Local volunteers stayed with us at the school. The evenings we went on walks around the community and to a river nearby, we shared stories with the locals, played cards, and talked amongst each other.

    CODEHA was mostly leisure activities, experience the community, and helping with gardening. I got up fairly early- 6am and practiced yoga. It gave me time to reflect on all I'd seen and experienced. We all had breakfast together in the morning and had opportunities to go to the market, a hotel that was close by, or stay and prepare dinner or work in the garden. There was a never ending supply of corn that needed to be sorted so we'd sit for hours, sort corn and share stories. A couple weekends we went on trips to the beach and a beautiful waterfall-I've never seen water so blue! We did a lot of exploring together and connecting with the local community members. Evenings consisted of typical camp "get-to-know-ya" games and we all became VERY close! Another volunteer brought a guitar so we often listened to music, drank homemade hot chocolate, and took in the simple beauties.

    Exploring Haiti while volunteering abroad
    Exploring Haiti while volunteering abroad

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Tasia: When I returned from Haiti, I was at home and my sister poured both of us a glass of cold water. As she passed me the glass, it really hit me on how much privilege I have in this world. A simple glass of water was so precious to some and expendable to others. My experience in Haiti has drastically reframed how I see the world. I feel as if I "get it" now. By that, I simply mean I see that there is so much more to this life than finding a job, a spouse, getting a raise, etc. I've seen how the acts of one person can change the world of many. As written in the Charter of Compassion, "Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and to put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equality, and respect." I feel a duty to live my life more compassionately.

    Part of that, I've changed my concept of what a "career" looked like. I had the idea that a job consisted of waking up each morning to a "BUZZ... BUZZ.... BUZZ" alarm clock, commuting to a 9-5, coming home and relaxing from a stressful day etc, etc. Yet, it most certainly does not have to look like that. This realization has changed my career trajectory as I finish up my Masters in Clinical Psychology and begin thinking of life after grad school. While I originally planned to be a therapist, my eyes are now open to less orthodox professions. For example, since I love traveling, my education is focused around helping others process experiences, and I'm very active as an alumnae in advising Greek Fraternities & Sororities- I'm looking into jobs taking Greek Student leaders on international service trips. It's entirely possible to have a job doing something that you love, something you find meaning in, and still be able to pay off student loans!

About the provider

Volunteers For Peace is a non-profit organization, founded in 1982, that offers placement in over 3000 voluntary service projects in more than 90 countries. Each year we provide almost 1,000 volunteers with invaluable opportunities to strengthen their ability to communicate in diverse groups, explore grassroots leadership opportunities, and build cultural understanding and connections around the world.

Our affordable registration fee of $500 ($650 for under 18) includes leadership, food, accommodation, and work materials. Each project incorporates volunteer work with cultural exchange among a group of international volunteers. Work types include work with children, environmental, agriculture, renovation, construction, disaster relief work, festivals and more!

Volunteers can serve for 2-3 weeks in an international group up to 1 year independently. We also arrange custom projects for families, student and community groups and other unique situations. Contact us today!