Our Volunteer Programme is one of our most important projects every year.
Working and staying in Haiti can pose additional challenges, and the health, safety and security of our volunteers is our top priority during the week. If you are considering applying for the programme, these Frequently Asked Questions may be of help!
What does the role of a volunteer look like?
Volunteer roles vary and depend on the needs of the local community that the Volunteer Programme is based in. Most of the volunteer projects focus on renovating and upgrading local resources, such as schools or community facilities. Other roles may include running summer camps for local children, building a well or a road, or installing solar panels. Please get in touch if you’d like to know more about the next Volunteer Programme’s focus area.
Do I need experience in construction to take part?
No, we do not require any previous experience for our annual Volunteer Programme. At the beginning of the trip, you will be fully instructed in your tasks, and you’ll be supervised by an experienced team who can help with any questions you have about them. If you do have experience in construction or any other relevant area (such as plumbing, electricity etc) though, let us know about it, and we will make sure that your skills are best utilised.
What are the recruitment criteria and how does the process work?
To participate in our Volunteer Programme, you should be between the ages of 18-70; however, exceptions can be made at the sole discretion of our team.
You can submit an enquiry form or contact our Volunteer Manager to express your interest in the Volunteer Programme and to run through some questions. If you wish to take part, you will then be invited to complete an extended Application Form. As part of this, you have to agree to adhere to our Standards of Integrity, provide a fitness certificate from your doctor, and undergo Garda Vetting. You will also have to fundraise the costs of the Volunteer Programme in order to take part, as outlined in more detail below.
All volunteers are also asked to attend the pre-departure briefing carried out about four weeks before you leave for Haiti.
What are the accommodation and living conditions like?
You will stay in basic, shared accommodation, where toilets and daily showers will be available. For security reasons, you will not be able to leave or wander from the accommodation or work sites on your own.
All your meals will be taken care of. We will provide you with substantial, nutritious and locally-prepared food, and supply bottled water for you to drink throughout the day.
The average temperature in Haiti is 35°C, and the average humidity level is 60%. While the Volunteer Programme does entail a week of hard work in challenging conditions, you should enjoy an extremely rewarding experience.
Are there specific health and safety requirements?
Since working conditions can be strenuous, you should be in good health to participate. While basic first-aid services will be available, on-site medical care will be limited. In addition, local hospitals can face limitations in their care of critically ill or injured patients. You should consider this before travelling, if it is a concern to you.
You should ensure that your vaccinations for safe travel to Haiti are up to date before departure. For vaccination recommendations, please check the Tropical Medical Bureau website.
We will provide safety briefing on site to minimise the risk of accidents or injury. We ask that all volunteers adhere to these instructions throughout the programme.
Personal travel insurance is included in the cost of the Volunteer Programme and lasts for the duration of the trip only. If you wish to travel before or after the programme on this policy, you will have to purchase additional cover for these periods.
Are there any visa requirements?
To travel to Haiti, you must have an electronic, machine-readable passport which is valid for at least six months after the date of departure and has at least four consecutive blank pages inside. In order to complete our application forms, a photocopy of your passport is required.
En route to Haiti, you will be required to enter the United States (US). Irish citizens must hold a valid ESTA visa before entering the US. You can apply for your ESTA Visa here. If your country of nationality is outside of the Visa Waiver Programme which grants ESTA visas, you will have to apply for a Visitor’s visa to the US. More information is available here. Please note that you incur the cost of the ESTA or Visitors visa.
You will need to complete a standard visa entry form on arrival into Haiti. We will advise you of the details required for this prior to your departure.
What are the fundraising requirements?
You are required to fundraise, sponsor or pay €4,500 ($5,000/£3,920) to take part in the Volunteer Programme. A €500 ($500/£400) non-refundable deposit to secure your place is included in this.
Fundraising covers your cost of travel, including food, water, accommodation, transport, security, scheduled flights, overnight accommodation en route if needed, basic insurance and more. Most importantly, it provides the resources for the critical work of our sustainable community development projects in Haiti, which you will be working on during the programme.
While we completely understand that it can be a challenge to raise this amount of money, we find that engaging family and friends to support your work can be a very helpful and enjoyable way of achieving it.
We can also offer you a selection of fundraising resources (including t-shirts, buckets, stickers, flyers and more), give you advice to help you meet your fundraising goal, and send you reminders on key dates to help you reach it.
If you become unable to participate in the Volunteer Programme, your deposit and other funds raised up to that point cannot be refunded; they will go towards our ongoing projects in Haiti. Equally, the funds cannot be transferred to other existing volunteers or to any future Volunteer Programme, unless in exceptional circumstances.
Visas, personal expenses, and vaccinations are not included in the €4,500 ($5,000/£3,920) cost.
What support will I receive?
The situation in Haiti can be difficult, as communities are still recovering from the effects of the 2010 earthquake and 2016’s Hurricane Matthew, as well as experiencing ongoing political turmoil and other challenges. During your time there, you’ll see poverty and difficult circumstances first-hand.
Our staff will support you at all times – before the departure, during the trip, and after you come back. We are always available to help you with any questions or concerns you might have along the way.
About one month before the Volunteer Programme, we will organise a pre-departure meeting to prepare you for what you might experience in Haiti. We will be with you to provide any support or advice you might need, or to talk through your experiences in Haiti.
After the trip, we will ensure that you are aware of all the support options available to you, including post-arrival discussions and the courses provided by Comhlámh.
Can I speak with a previous volunteer before signing up?
Yes, if you would like to chat to a previous volunteer, please let us know and we can help to arrange this.