Discover Haiti, Rediscover Yourself!

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Volunteers For Peace (VFP).

Video and Photos

Enjoying free time
Painting a community park
Reading (looking at pictures) with Haitian children
Designing pumpkins.
The kids loved the front camera.
Playing soccer with kids.

About

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 projects 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 two locations in Haiti. In 2015, we provided enrichment activities to more than 800 children.

One of our initiatives for 2016 is to work with community organizations to sprout and plant coffee and other trees. This project will increase sustainable revenue streams in rural areas and help reforest Haiti.

Would you like more information about this program?

Click below to get in contact with a personal advisor at Volunteers for Peace. We would love to answer your questions and help you discover if this program is the right fit for you!

Questions & Answers

You are currently not too old to volunteer. Volunteer for peace does not limit programs for seniors.

Reviews

86%
based on 16 reviews
  • Impact 8.1
  • Support 8.4
  • Fun 8.6
  • Value 8.6
  • Safety 8.4
Showing 1 - 15 of 16
Default avatar
Sarah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Eye Opening Experience

Traveling to Haiti pushed me outside of my comfort zone. And that is where I've stayed. I was thrown into a culture where I am the outsider and all eyes were on me and that was something I was not used to. I was forced to deal with emotions that I had never felt before and because of that I am a better person. I also learned a lot about myself while in Haiti. I learned that I can push myself to new limits and accomplish difficult tasks. I can be put in a completely new environment without knowing a single person and be okay. I can make connections in difficult circumstances and survive with minimal resources. I am grateful for the experience I had in Haiti and because of it I have grown as a person.

What would you improve about this program?
If I had to change one thing about the program I would have liked to spend more time in Port au Prince, getting a better feel for the city.
Riley
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering With The Endearing Children of Haiti

As a sixteen year old, I was very happy to find a program that allowed me to participate despite my age. Although I have traveled internationally before, it was the first time I traveled by myself. The staffs did a great job setting up the program, supervising the participants and making us feel safe. Yes, Port-au-Prince is very hot and dusty, and we didn't have reliable internet service nor electricity at times, but being with the kids more than made up for these hardships. The climate in Duchity was very comfortable and the people in the village were extremely friendly, welcoming, and fun to be with. The high point was getting to know the kids because they were so enthusiastic, fun loving, and genuinely loved to be around the volunteers. Music and dancing is a central part of their culture, and I was happy to be a part of that. Although I do not speak French or Creole, it was still very easy to connect with the children. My only suggestion would be to have volunteers do community projects in the afternoons. As far as the food, I thought having to eat rice and beans for all my meals everyday would be tiring, but I found myself liking the food because of the spices and the variety of ways it was prepared. Overall I highly recommend the program and gladly would do it again.

What would you improve about this program?
My only suggestion would be to have volunteers do community projects in the afternoons. When volunteers arrive at the airport, make sure the person who meets them there will not allow anyone to take advantage by grabbing their suitcase and demanding $10.
Default avatar
Shannon
4/10
No, I don't recommend this program

A lot of potential, little delivery

This program had a lot of potential and had many great recommendations, but unfortunately the trip did not deliver. The staff contact from VFP that was on our trip was very uninterested in the volunteers, and spent most of her time with her Hatian boyfriend and friends. We went down to build bio-sand water filters, but didn't even get to see one, let alone build one. We wound up working on random community projects that seemed to be thrown together last minute.

Being someone that has brought volunteer groups to numerous places, and also having worked for a nonprofit that received new volunteer groups weekly, I was really disappointed by the lack of service learning and cultural immersion opportunities. Many were planned but almost all of them were cancelled.

I enjoyed getting to know our Haitian leaders and the other volunteers. I also thought Haiti was a beautiful country. I would have liked to meet more people in the community and learn more about the work we were doing and why.

I wound up taking the experience for what it was - pretty much a hostel-style vacation. I was happy that I met everyone and had exposure to the country and people of Haiti. I plan on returning to Haiti to volunteer again, but unfortunately will not go with VFP. I hope that the organization learned from this experience and will create a better service learning trip for volunteers in the future.

Response from Volunteers For Peace (VFP)

At VFP we do learn and grow from every project we organize, especially in Haiti. It is true this specific project was challenging and several volunteers were not satisfied. Our Board met and reviewed comments, corresponded with volunteers, and reviewed policies. The main change that was made was to be more transparent with volunteers about the challenges of organizing a project during a national (Haiti Independence Day) and international (New Year's Day) holiday period. It is true projects sometimes fell through and VFP was scrambling to organized other opportunities but we believe one of our assets is we have deep connections in the community and were able to reschedule when plans didn't go as expected. Not sharing this stress with the volunteers resulted in inaccurate assumptions of how staff was spending time and did not allow them to learn about community development work. We have run 6 projects since then at this same location with very positive outcomes and are always happy when policy and performance changes are effective.

Default avatar
Maddie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English in Desab, Haiti

I felt more welcome in Haiti than in any other place I have traveled. The community of Desab is a rural village with no electricity or running water, but it is a beautiful village with even more beautiful people. Living in these conditions made me feel so connected to the people and I learned so much about their daily lives. There were people around all the time and every moment of the day there was something to do and always kids to play with. This is an experience I will never forget and the first time that I've traveled to a place and felt like I must return.

Default avatar
Jennifer
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

An eye opening experience!

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.

Default avatar
Karen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Summer In Haiti

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.

What would you improve about this program?
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!
Default avatar
Lila
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I left my heart in Haiti

I traveled to Haiti (for the first time) with Volunteers for Peace (VFP) in 2014 over Thanksgiving and could not have asked more a more incredible experience. I was a part of a group of four people (2 Canadians and 2 Americans ranging in age from 28 to 50) who volunteered in a small, rural community in the mountains called Desab. VFP organized a video conference so we could all meet before the trip and coordinate our activities/programming that we'd like to offer during the trip. I really appreciated the opportunity to get to know everyone before we arrived in Haiti. Between the four of us we taught English, math, basic aerodynamics, drumming, and yoga. We also helped build a new classroom for the 6th graders. VFP empowered us to teach what we love and because of that we all had a high level of ownership in what we did.

Haiti is such a unique and incredible place. The people are overwhelmingly full of love and kindness. My experience was so amazing because of the wonderful Haitian volunteers involved in the project like Dimitry, Cherly, Fenel, Arthur, and Aben. While they helped quite a bit with translating, they were the real reason we were able to coalesce in the community so well. All of the locals knew, respected, and loved them and because they introduced us to community members and worked along side of us, the locals were very receptive and welcoming.

The friendships that I made from the trip and the things that I learned changed my life. I look forward to going back to Desab every year; to that little village that holds my heart.

Default avatar
Steven
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

VFP, sound choice for new and experienced volunteers!

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
Sippel
2/10
No, I don't recommend this program

Very Disappointing Volunteer Experience

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.

Default avatar
Barbara
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Men anpil, chay pa lou...

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 :)

What would you improve about this program?
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!
Default avatar
MPM210
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

A Wonderful Experience

This program was amazing!! I like the program because it was started and managed by a Haitian that is from the local community. Also, everyone in Haiti was so welcoming and accommodating, and made every effort to maximize our experience. I gained a completely new perspective and was able to make some great friends, who I still keep in touch with months after the program. VFP was a good deal for the money that I spent and it was good to see the actual construction and vision of what the program will eventually create.

Michael

What would you improve about this program?
I would like there to be a little additional language training, as well as having a group leader who spoke the local language (creole) either fluently, or at least with some degree with understanding.
Default avatar
Joe
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

At home in Haiti: Thanksgiving

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!

What would you improve about this program?
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.
Default avatar
tori.houston
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Haiti: Circle of Friends

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.

Default avatar
Namaste
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

"Discovering Namaste"

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'

Default avatar
Meg
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Haiti Was a Life Changing Experience

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.