VOLUNTEER IN HAITI
Wake up to crowing roosters and a few kids from the orphanage asking if you’ll take them to the beach today … Of course you say yes — An afternoon splashing in Caribbean waters with an armful of your favorite kids is something you can’t say no to!
In a nation that has faced so many difficulties, volunteers help give back by providing an English education to children who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. For volunteers who want tropical weather and lots of time with the kids they are teaching, this is the experience you’re looking for.
Haiti is the humanitarian service volunteers fall in love with. We’ve had multiple volunteers come back for another semester in this tropical country because they get so attached to the kids they are living with and teaching. While Caribbean life does mean hanging out in the warm sunshine and picking coconuts right off the tree, the experience is all about the kids.
Haiti’s a very unique ILP program because volunteers are living in the same orphanage they’re teaching in. It gives you a really close relationship to the kids you’re teaching (and living with). If the idea of having movie nights in the courtyard while your students sit on your lap, weekend trips splashing in the ocean with your kids, and sharing your snacks from home sounds like the ideal way to spend a semester, you’re ready for a typical day in Haiti …
Glimpse a day in Haiti
You get up for the day and wave to the kiddos you’ll be teaching in just a couple of hours. They’re already wanting to play with you, but it’s time for breakfast. Today, your group sits down to pancakes topped with bananas and nuts. Your meals are all provided, cooked in the kitchen of the orphanage (there’s a big table where your whole ILP group can eat together). The ILP experience is all about the culture of the country you’re volunteering in, which definitely includes the food. Lunch and dinner will be classic Haitian staples …. Not quite familiar with Haitian food? Plan on meals with plantains, macaroni salad, bread, rice, beans, and lots of pasta. You’ll also sometimes see chicken, fish, hot dogs, and some of that tropical fruit you’ll love about living in the Caribbean.
After breakfast is all cleaned up, it’s time to teach. There’s a break for lunch then you’ll teach your afternoon classes. After lessons, all the kids are so excited to play with you. A few people in your group walk down the dirt road to grab a soda at the little convenience store, walking hand in hand with some neighborhood kids. Since teaching is only a portion of your day, you’re set up with quite a bit of free time. Maybe more free time than you are used to. That means time for playing group games with your fellow volunteers and lots of time playing with the kids you live with. Plan on pulling out your speakers most nights for a dance party before bed! Out of all of our programs, Haiti is where you’ll get to spend the most time with your kids.
Your experience here is humanitarian. Plan on keeping cool with fans, no A/C, dealing with power that goes in and out, and water pressure that’s more like a trickle than a steady stream, all in a country that’s been struggling economically for years. You’ll see trash in the streets and dirt roads with huge potholes that cause for some bumpy rides around the country. But most of all, you’ll meet people who are incredibly happy and so welcoming despite these challenges. People come outside just to wave at you. Little kids, who aren’t dressed in much and dirty from playing all day, are so happy to see you. It’s a life changing experience for you to be so close to the people you are helping.
When it comes to weekends off and vacation time, your Local Coordinator will really help you out. Haiti isn’t a country where it’s easy to just jump on a bus and go out exploring, so you’ll need some help getting around. Because of the economic, environmental, and political struggles Haiti has suffered, travel is a bit unique in this ILP country. ILP volunteers have favorite vacation spots in certain approved sections of the country, and love vacationing in the nearby Dominican Republic. If you’re looking for a semester full of traveling, there are other countries that would be a better fit for you. But if you love the experience of spending so much time with your students, you might want to plan on coming to Haiti a second time!
TEACH ENGLISH AT AN ORPHANAGE IN HAITI
In this Humanitarian Program, you’ll be making a difference by helping children learn English, up to 20 hours per week. You’ll be teaching both the kids in the orphanage and children from families in the neighborhood. All the kids you teach come from limited means, and are anywhere from 3 years old to about 14 or 15. No experience is needed, we provide training on our teaching method!
Volunteering and Costs
Working with kids is always a challenge. You’ll be surrounded by kids who didn’t grow up in a structured home, and love to play pranks. They would rather have dance parties during class instead of your English lessons (who can blame them?). That same energy that makes hanging out all together so fun just makes for some challenges in the classroom. The kids here are sassy and so easy to love, and quickly earn their way straight to your heart.
Why is the program fee higher here? Unlike the Exchange Program, the orphans and families of the children you work with will not be helping to subsidize your costs. All the children you are working with come from very limited means. The service you provide is completely free for them. Thank you for wanting to provide the best care for these kids by volunteering in this humanitarian program!
Interested in other ways you’re needed? Compare ILP’s Humanitarian Programs here.
Volunteers live together in Saint Marc, a town near the western coastline
—Spring: Depart early January – return home the end of April
—Summer: Depart end of April/early May — return middle of August
—Fall: Depart end of August — return middle of December, just in time for Christmas
—6-10 volunteers in a group
—Single males/females and married couples
—18-about 25ish years old
—US and Canadian volunteers
—No experience needed!
EXPLORING THE CARIBBEAN
While travel throughout Haiti is a bit limited because of a lack of infrastructure and roadways, there are several spots that volunteers love to see during their semester. You live so close to the turquoise blue coast that you can visit any weekend! We also recommend heading over to neighboring Dominican Republic for a week long trip.
Cap-Haitien, Haiti — Make your way to the northern coast to visit one of the most popular spots in Haiti. Ride horses up to the Citadelle on the hill before taking a boat to a secluded beach on the coastline. This spot is close to where cruise ships come!
Les Cayes, Haiti — Head southwest to get away from the city noise and do some relaxing. The beaches aren’t as crowded, there are waterfalls to play in, and time to soak up the tropical weather.
The Western coast, Haiti — Have a stay-cation! You live 20-30 minutes from a gorgeous coastline, so why not stay and enjoy it? There’s a particular resort resting on a beautiful beach that volunteers love. Spend a few days living the high life, lounging around, and splashing in the waves.
Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic — A favorite destination tucked away in the lush central part of the D.R. It’s full of plenty of options for adventure. Ride horses to a waterfall, go whitewater rafting, and stay in a jungle bungalow.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic — Take your vacation in style. This is one of the most popular getaways on the island for tourists, full of resorts and pristine beaches. It’s also the perfect jumping off point for other popular day trips that we love like Isla Saona and Santo Domingo.
Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic — Check out this city where another ILP group calls home! Relax on a number of beaches along the coastline (or even head out to Paradise Island which is just as beautiful as it sounds). Take a cable car ride up the mountain to get a view and visit the towering Christ statue, and slide your way through a natural pool system known as “27 Waterfalls”.
Samana, Dominican Republic — Stay in an actual tree house for your vacation here! If that’s not the highlight of your vacation, the adventures will be. Ride bikes on the beach, swing from rope swings at the base of a waterfall, go snorkeling and island hopping, then try out zip lining. Lastly, go visit Los Haitises National Park.
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic — Don’t skip the country’s capital. The center of Santo Domingo is so full of Spanish influence that you might wonder if you’re actually visiting Europe for the day. Ride bikes around the town before heading out for a boat tour around caverns at Los Tres Ojos National Park.
Barahona, Dominican Republic — Ready to break free of the touristy spots? Head southwest to this remote (but just as beautiful) surfer’s paradise. Go zip lining over the tropical forest, swim and enjoy the beach, and hike through the rainforest to emerald pools. All in all, Barahona is pretty perfect.
... it has been the thing I have loved most about being here.
“We have the unique opportunity of living with a number of the kids that we teach. We get to have dance parties with them, give lots of hugs and snuggles, often time the younger kids will fall asleep while you hold them, the older girls like to FaceTime your family and one of the students has become so close with my family because of that opportunity.
You want to give EVERYTHING to these kids because they have so little. But the thing I have realized, is that the best thing I can give each of them is my time and my love. ALL the time. We get so close to these kids because of the time we get to spend with them and it has been the thing I have loved most about being here.”