If you’ve lingered a bit around this blog, you know that I have had some earth-shifting service opportunities to travel and volunteer in Haiti. The organization with which I volunteered following the devastating 2010 earthquake, and then returned with last year as a group leader, is Elevate Destinations.
If you’ve ever had the itch to get to Haiti and get busy, they have a new trip going this summer, July 28-August 5 (If you are super dedicated, there is a potential extension for a second week of service work). “Elevate Haiti” puts a particular focus on sustainability and supporting local organizations on the ground–this way the mistake is never made (as too many voluntourism groups do) of providing “top down” charity. Nope, with Elevate, you are in service to the local partners–even when they do things in very different ways than you might. It is folly to try and impose our sensibilities–we actually don’t know better–and on this trip you are fully immersed, living and laughing and sweating (oh boy the sweating–you’ll love it. Your Bikram yoga class ain’t got nuthin’ on Haiti in July) with the local community. Your work will be largely youth-focused, working on education programs with the kids of the area (this year’s trip takes place on Ile-la-Vache, a small island off Haiti’s coast) and there is also a community-generated program, requested by the local community, that you will assist with (probably a construction or ecosystem project). There is plenty of downtime to see the slice of the world you are bettering, amazing Caribbean beaches being a highlight, and most importantly, bond with the Haitian kids and adults who are welcoming you. You start and finish your travels in Port-au-Prince, so you’ll get a tour and chance to see some of the capital as well. The earthquake was back in the beginning of 2010, and yet there are still so many displaced people living in tent villages–so much infrastructure has so far to go, but you’ll be overwhelmed with the inspiration you discover among your new friends.
Seriously–explore the website and try it on in your mind–see if it feels like a fit. If you have questions, don’t hesitate getting in touch with me directly, and reaching out to the folks at Elevate. They are Boston-based, so their time schedule likely aligns at least somewhat with yours for a call or call back. I had two great friends join me last year, plus all the friends I’ve made there (always a small group of a dozen or so, so you’ll get to know people and establish lifelong bonds with your fellow volunteers, too), and we can all tell you that you will not come home the same. That’s a promise. You want that change.