Work and Travel in Haiti
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN HAITI FOR TRAVELLERS
Haiti is the most impoverished country in the whole of the Western hemisphere. Known as the first black colony to revolt and gain its independence, Haiti has a long and interesting history. But travel in Haiti is not for the faint of heart. Public services are practically non-existent, and poverty is rife.
That’s why this is a country for those who want to challenge themselves. Work and travel in Haiti won’t just change your life but the lives of others.
Let’s take a look at the ultimate travel guide to Haiti (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/haiti) so you’re fully equipped for your adventure here.
1. Work with Impoverished Farmers in Haiti
Haitian farmers have little land to work with and they have experienced a range of natural disasters that have further crippled them. International charities are working to improve the situation by bringing in new technology and ensuring that they can farm efficiently and sustainably.
You can see some of rural Haiti by joining in with these projects. You’ll be able to get to know the locals and the majority of these volunteering opportunities in Haiti are combined with homestays. It’s a great way to understand the local culture.
2. Teach English in Haiti
The two main languages of Haiti are French and Creole. However, ambitious young Haitians want to learn English so they can improve their prospects. There are schools everywhere in the country, but the two main locals for teaching English in Haiti are Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien.
You don’t need to have any qualifications other than being a native English speaker. Sometimes you can even walk into schools off the street and offer your services.
Good English teachers are a rarity in this country.
3. Work with the Elderly in Haiti
Did you know that the average life expectancy of a man in Haiti is just 55?
One of the main reasons for this is that older Haitians don’t have any support from the government. You’ll be able to help the elderly by working in care homes and supporting them in their efforts to care for the elderly.
As someone who’s unqualified in this field, you’ll be focusing more on keeping them company and keeping them interested. Take note that it does help if you have at least some grasp of French before you work in Haiti in this field. Very few of the older population speak any English at all.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR HAITI
Haiti has one of the most open visa policies in the world. Only Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Panama, and Colombia require any form of visa. Everyone else is able to enter the country by just paying $10 as a tourist fee (https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/haiti) when they arrive.
Your visa will entitle you to work and travel in Haiti for three months before you have to leave (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/haiti/entry-requirements). The majority of volunteers in the country tend to stay for longer, however. If you need to get a long-term visa, we recommend applying for this from a Haitian embassy in advance (http://www.haiti.org/).
Whilst you can get a visa extension within the country, reports from travellers say that this can be difficult and not worth the effort. It’s much easier to get it from outside the country.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN HAITI
The spring season sees the first of the rainy seasons, which lasts from April until June. This is the main rainy season of the year and is the worst time to visit the country. But there are still volunteer opportunities in Haiti available in the urban areas.
Working with the elderly, teaching English, and working with the disabled are just some of the options available to you during spring.
The summer season is one of the best times to visit the country. Whilst hurricanes can be possible, they rarely cause major damage. The summer season is often a drought season, which is made worse by the large amount of deforestation that has occurred over the decades.
We recommend getting out of the urban areas at this time of year and going into the rural areas. Working on farms is always a good choice in summer because these farmers often need all the help they can get during the hotter months.
Another option is to join forest conservation projects. Local charities and international organisations are working to reverse the damage that deforestation has caused over the years.
From October until November, expect to deal with another short rainy season. This is less intense and shouldn’t stop you from volunteering in the rural areas.
However, you may prefer to stick to the urban areas. Travel in Haiti can be difficult at the best of times, but when it’s raining heavily it can be near impossible to get around.
The winter season is the second dry season. Whilst this is high season in the Caribbean, Haiti receives little to no tourists. You shouldn’t expect to see an increase in foreigners in winter, other than volunteers who may be in the area.
Refer back to the ‘Spring’ section to find out more information on some of the things you can do in winter.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN HAITI
If you want to work in Haiti you need to be prepared to feel like the standout character. There are few foreigners in Haiti and you’ll stick out like a sore thumb. But what you’ll find is that Haitians aren’t hostile to foreigners. On the contrary, they love it when people visit their country and you’ll make friends extremely quickly.
Despite the poverty, Haiti is one of the friendliest Caribbean countries. Naturally, you’ll have to deal with the usual array of grifters, but once you have a Haitian friend you’ll find that you won’t get hassled.
There are crime problems in Haiti, but your project manager will be able to provide you with full support when you arrive. Many volunteers are paired with a local helper for this reason, so you’re not too overwhelmed by what you experience here.
Are you going to work and travel in Haiti this year?
- Edited on Dec 11 2018 by Marichka