Short Term Mission Trip FAQs:
Deciding to Serve
Haiti has recently been listed as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. While much of Haiti is in need of some form of support, tangible progress is being made in communities across the country. Haiti is home to approximately ten million people, and we are called to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with them. There is much to be done, but you will have the pleasure of seeing progress by serving even just a week with us!
What can I tell my friends about Hope Outreach International?
Hope Outreach International was founded in 1997 as an outreach to the people living in Lamothe, Haiti. Our founder, Dr. Julio Volcy, was born and raised in Lamothe, living out many of the hardships that children still face there today. HOI has been bringing hope and love to the people of Lamothe for over fifteen years through the tangible necessities of food, education and medical support. We work to provide these families and the community with the resources and opportunities that they need to improve and enrich their quality of life. We serve in the name of Jesus and are dedicated to sharing the hope of the Gospel with everyone we encounter.
Can anyone serve?
We welcome a large range of individuals and groups to serve with us in Haiti. Please contact our Mission Coordinator with any specific questions or concerns. Depending on the specific work involved in your trip, age restrictions may apply.
What is the typical size of a group?
Groups range in size from four to thirty people, depending on the project and work that is being completed. We can comfortably accommodate groups of up to eighteen, but will work to make arrangements should your group be a bit larger.
Is it possible to join an existing group?
Yes! Most of our groups are open to added team members. If you are interested in serving alongside another group, please contact our Mission Coordinator for more information.
Can I come to Haiti without a group?
Yes! If you don’t have a group, we can arrange for you to stay at the Mission House in Port-au-Prince or with a Haitian family in one of the local communities. We can also work to coordinate the timing so that you can serve alongside an existing group that is scheduled to be here during the time that you wish to serve.
How can we serve? What will we do there?
There are a number of ways in which you can work with us to serve the people of Haiti during your stay. Among others, here is a list of service opportunities:
-Construction and Painting
-Vacation Bible School
-Next Generation Leadership Conferences
-Seminars for Local Teachers
-Evangelical Crusades and/or Street Evangelism
-Serving at a Local Orphanage
-Teaching English as a Second Language
Thorough consideration is given to group members’ skills and talents before they are placed for service. Our trips are customized to ensure that your group has a satisfying experience while serving with us. Groups with special interests are encouraged to contact us to discuss the options for your trip(s).
Preparing for Haiti
How much does a trip cost? What is included in the cost? What is not included?
The cost of your trip will depend on the length and purpose of your mission; the cost is always determined before your trip by your group leader. The following are costs associated with serving with HOI in Haiti:
Lodging and Food: $55 per each night spent with us
Transportation (in country): $150 for your entire stay
Ministry Contribution: $200/person
For instance, if you stay for seven days and six nights, your total HOI trip cost will be $680 ($330 for lodging and food, $150 for transportation and $200 for your ministry contribution). Included in this cost are the following: unlimited personal consultation, all in country transportation, lodging, homemade Haitian and American meals, and unlimited safe drinking water.
The following items are NOT included in the cost quoted above:
Airfare to/from Port-au-Prince, Haiti (fares vary based on your flight origin)
Traveler’s Card/Visa fee to enter Haiti ($10, as of July 2015)
Offerings at local church services
Specific expenses related to your mission work (for instance, there may be additional costs associated with building supplies for construction work or materials for your specific project at Vacation Bible School)
These costs will be determined by your group leader and will be handled within your group
Is Haiti safe?
Overall, Haiti is not a dangerous country. During your stay, you will meet many genuine people who are very welcoming and hospitable. To ensure safety, the Mission House in Port-au-Prince is protected by a large, concrete wall, and the gate to the property is always managed. There is always an inherent risk when traveling internationally and while visiting any large city; however, HOI is very conscientious of the places we take groups and do everything in our power to create a safe environment.
What shots or vaccinations should I receive before arriving?
We cannot give specific instructions or guidelines for which vaccinations you will need in order to safely travel to Haiti. Our advice is to check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your local health care provider for specific instructions. More information from the CDC can be found here: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/haiti.
What types of clothing should I pack?
You will want to pack comfortable clothing that can get dirty! We recommend that you bring a couple of comfortable outfits, as well as one or two nice outfits for church and your nice meal in town. For many people, it’s easiest to stock up on clothing at their local thrift stores and then to leave the clothing behind in Haiti when they go home; we will pass the clothing out, and you’ll have plenty of room for souvenirs in your suitcase!
All clothing should be modest and loose fitting. We ask that women not bring any tops with spaghetti straps or short shorts with them. You will want to pack a bathing suit for your free day, which may include a trip to the beach. Bathing suits should also be modest; please pack a one-piece swimsuit. Typically, individuals bring two to three pairs of shoes – we recommend bringing one pair of work shoes (tennis shoes or boots, depending on the nature of your mission work), flip-flops or comfortable sandals, and a pair of nicer shoes for church.
Besides clothing, is there anything in particular that I should bring?
We highly recommend that you bring a battery operated personal fan. (You should be able to find one at your local hardware store.) While there is air conditioning in all of the sleeping rooms, the fan will come in handy should the electricity cut out or you need additional air for personal comfort. We also recommend that you bring ear plugs with you, as there are many chickens, goats and stray dogs in the neighborhood that enjoy making noises throughout the night.
You will not need to bring bath towels or sheets, as they will be provided by HOI. We do recommend that you bring a beach towel for use during your free day. Washcloths and hand towels are also great, for personal use. All outlets are standard North American outlets, so you will not need to bring an adaptor.
Your group leader will likely provide a packing list with specifics for your trip. As an extra reminder, we advise you to pack hand sanitizer, sunscreen and insect repellent, along with your personal toiletries.
How much spending money should I bring?
If you are planning to purchase souvenirs during your time here, we recommend bringing between $100-$200. Most of our guests spend between $50-$100 on souvenirs during their time in Haiti; however, withdrawing funds from your bank account can be difficult and costly, so we recommend that you bring more cash than you may need. Please bring smaller bills, as you may have trouble breaking larger bills. (We recommend not bringing anything larger than a $20 bill.)
In addition to your own souvenirs, you will also be responsible for covering the cost of your meal on our free day. We will eat at a nice restaurant somewhere in the Port-au-Prince area; the average cost of the meal and drink is $20. You may also want to bring some cash to provide a tip for the translators, drivers, and household staff. Many group leaders build the cost of the meal and an allotment for tips into the overall cost of the trip; please check with your group leader about whether or not this applies for your trip.
Serving in Haiti
Where will we be staying and serving in Haiti?
Your location will depend on the nature of your trip. Most teams stay at the Mission House, which is located in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. We spend the evenings there and drive out to the place of ministry each day. The Clinic and HOI Academy are located in the village of Lamothe, which is about forty-five minutes from the Mission House. Haiti Teen Challenge is located in Port-au-Prince.
What is the clinic in Lamothe like?
The clinic in Lamothe is a rural clinic, with two examination tables and a portable lab. Throughout the year, a fulltime Haitian nurse staffs the clinic; she typically works alongside medical groups when they come to serve. In addition to the examination area, we also have our own pharmacy and stock room. A variety of medical conditions are treated at the clinic, and it is the healthcare provider of many local people.
Will we be attending a church service in Haiti?
If you are in Haiti on a Sunday, you will have the option to attend a local church service. Men and women are expected to dress appropriately for church. Women should plan to wear a dress or a long skirt and nice blouse. Men should plan to wear khaki or dress pants and a button-down shirt. (A tie is not necessary.)
Can I use my credit/debit card in Haiti?
There are several places in Port-au-Prince where your credit or debit card will be accepted (grocery stores, restaurants, some tourist attractions); however, souvenir vendors will only accept cash. See above for the amount of spending money (in cash) that we suggest you bring with you.
Can we drink the water and eat local foods?
Clean drinking water is provided by HOI – it is always available at the Mission House, and is often brought out to the work sites; this water comes from either our deep, private well or is purchased in containers. All other water is not safe to drink, unless it has been purchased and is still sealed. Any food or water that is not provided by HOI will need to be approved before it can be consumed.
What will we be eating during our stay? Do we need to bring food?
The food cooked during your stay is a mix of traditional Haitian dishes and some American dishes. Your evening meal will usually be a Haitian style dish cooked by our house staff; these dishes usually have an emphasis on local vegetables, rice, beans, and plantains. The food cooked for you is delicious, and we’re sure that you will be satisfied with the options throughout your stay.
That said, we highly recommend bringing snack foods! Items such as Cliff/Luna bars, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, trail mix and nuts are great to have on hand if you become hungry in between meals or if you miss a meal on a busy workday. We will do our best to work with your specific needs; however, we recommend that you bring a plentiful supply of snack foods or meal substitutes if you think that the meals here will be a problem for you.
How does transportation work in country?
During your stay, you will be driven only in vehicles owned by HOI. We own a large “tap-tap” (cattle truck), a pick-up truck and several SUVs. Depending on the size of your group, you will either be riding in the back of the “tap-tap” (open air, with bench seats) or in one of the other vehicles. All transportation in country is included in the cost of your trip, so we will arrange for your airport pick-up/drop-off and any transportation needed for your “free” day.
Will we have access to translators during our stay?
Limited translators are available with every group. Depending on the nature of your service here, you may need to hire additional translators. (This particularly pertains to medical mission trips and groups that plan on doing one-on-one evangelism.) Each additional translator is $35/day. Many groups do not need this service, and we can help you with determining whether or not this will be necessary for your group.