Though Haiti may have largely faded from the headlines, the devastation following the earthquake that ravaged the country on January 12 is far from fixed. Donations to the Red Cross and other organizations are still greatly needed, but now there are also opportunities to travel to Haiti for volunteer projects. Elevate Destinations, a leader in sustainable travel, sent its first groups of volunteers to Haiti this week.
Elevate offers two trips that involve building or rebuilding vital community structures: A nine-day stint in Port-au-Prince centers on St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, an orphanage for former street boys that was destroyed by the earthquake. A 14-day itinerary in the port town of Jacmel focuses on constructing classrooms and a computer room for a free community school at St. Joseph Family’s Trinity House. Both trips also include side trips to explore some of Haiti’s beautiful scenery.
For each trip there are two options depending on the level of creature comforts you prefer. Volunteers who choose the basic package ($500 per person) will rough it in tents near the building sites, with spotty electricity and no running water (clean drinking water is provided). Breakfast and lunch are also included. An upgraded version ($1,500 per person) incorporates hotel accommodations and all meals.
Although there are no age restrictions for these projects, participants must be able to fulfill the physically demanding tasks required to rebuild – the current group in Port-au-Prince is lifting literally tons of rubble out of the building site using buckets. All volunteers must bring some of their own supplies – work gloves and boots, first aid kit, flashlight – and are also encouraged to bring items for donation, such as toiletries and clothing.
Elevate’s next volunteer trips will depart November 21. The official book by deadline is October 15, but the company will likely continue to accept applicants until the groups are full (maximum 12 for each group). Airfare is not included; American Airlines, Delta, and Spirit all have flights to Port-au-Prince. For more information, see www.elevatedestinations.com.