Shelley Barcoe is currently working as a Programme Support Intern in Haven’s field office in Haiti, where she is experiencing first-hand what life is like in the country. Here, she shares all that she’s been up to and her perspective on her journey in Haiti.
I arrived in Haiti nearly 4 weeks ago now to start my 22 week internship with Haven as part of my college course, International Development and Food Policy in University College Cork. I am currently a third year student there, and a major aspect of my course is to partake in a work placement with a development organisation, getting hands-on experience with key development issues and the challenges that come along with this.
The process started months ago when we got the option to pick from a list of organisations that are given to us from our lecturers: Haven stood out to me because I had an interest in the type of projects they run, so when I got an email saying I got an interview with them, I was happy. The excitement really set in when I got a phone call saying that Haven would like to offer me the intern position, which I happily accepted.
I wasn’t really sure what to be expecting before I left for Haiti, but reality soon hit me landing on the runway in Port-au-Prince. My first few weeks here have been very eventful and extremely eye-opening. During the first week, I got to see the last days of preparation before Haven’s Saint Patrick’s Day Celebrations event, which I then attended. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to get immersed into everything here and to meet everybody.
We then travelled to Île à Vache: this involved a few hours in the car and a very choppy boat journey, but arriving to picturesque island made the journey pleasantly worthwhile. We went there to visit Haven’s ongoing projects on the island, which was good opportunity for me to see everything that I had heard and read so much about over the last few weeks. I also got my first experience on a moto while there, which was an experience to say the least, as two of us hopped on with the driver! I’m still not sure how they know which turn to take as every little road looked the same to me!
The annual Volunteer Programme is taking place shortly, and there’s a lot of work to be done in preparation of the 30 volunteers arriving. This year will see a kindergarten being built, along with other smaller projects, with work in full swing already on the kindergarten. It is great being involved in the run-up to the week, seeing all the work that goes into planning and running the Volunteer Programme. I’m also extremely excited about the volunteers arriving in Haiti as I’ve heard many fantastic stories from previous years, and I’m really looking forward to the week and, overall, to see what Haiti holds from me for the next few weeks.
So far, everything here has gone great, the sun is always shining, and I’m meeting lovely people all the time. I believe that things can only get better from here! The adjustment from life as a student in Cork to life as an intern in Haiti hasn’t been too difficult: the hardest things for me are missing home and the restriction in movements here and not being able to leave the house when you want as I’m used to at home, but there’s always a driver on hand to bring you where you need to go! It is hard to get around the idea that walking the streets is never really an option here when you’re so used to it at home.
Overall now, I’m excited to see what Haiti has in store for me over the next few months and am eagerly awaiting the learning opportunities in Haiti here with Haven.