Who can go on a Hands Up for Haiti (HUFH) trip?
Although preference is given to doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, non-medical volunteers are welcome and encouraged to apply. We will work with you to find a trip that fits your skill set and experience.
How long is a Hands Up for Haiti trip?
Most missions are 1-2 weeks long. Departure day and length of mission vary depending on the nature of the trip and flight availability.
How much does a trip cost?
A trip costs our volunteers nothing. We make all arrangements and pay all costs attendant to a volunteer’s trip (with the exception of personal spending money), including airfare, lodging, food, MedJet Assist insurance, transportation in Haiti, and Creole-English speaking translators. However, in order to be eligible for us to send you on a volunteer medical mission, we require a “give or get” donation to our volunteer medical mission fund. To support Hands Up For Haiti’s work and its programs, including our volunteer medical missions, we ask for donations by or on behalf of each volunteer in the amount of at least $4000 for missions other than those through the Global Health Program. For Global Health trips, please contact your program administrator for more information.
In order to help volunteers who want to raise the money needed for these donations and to otherwise benefit the organization and the team, we have a peer to peer fundraising tool which gives both team leaders and volunteers proven ways to raise money more easily from friends and family.
What are the requirements?
All volunteers are required to go through an application and interview process. Once accepted, volunteers are required to participate in trip preparations, which can take 3-6 months to complete.
Missions vary but some may require that an applicant be in reasonably good physical condition because of physical demands in a challenging environment. The application process involves a detailed medical history that we will use to place volunteers appropriately.
How old do I have to be to participate?
Age by itself does not determine eligibility, nor is there an upper age limit. As long as you are in good physical, emotional and mental health and can face the physical demands of working in challenging physical environments in excessive heat, and possess the maturity to deal with the challenges that we face, you are welcome to apply. As a general guideline, most volunteers are over 21. If you are under 18 years of age, parental consent is required and you must have someone willing to travel with you and/or assume responsibility for you while in Haiti.
Where in Haiti do you work?
HUFH has established relationships with clinics and hospitals in the northern region of Haiti, in the city of Cap Haitien and its surrounding rural areas and in the coastal region of Bas Limbe. Many visiting teams hold outreach clinics in more remote villages.
Where do we stay?
We stay in a dormitory setting at or near the areas in which we work. These include beds, mosquito netting, cold showers, and toilet facilities. Treated water for drinking is available at each site. Food preparation is done on location. Please keep in mind that the diet in Haiti consists mainly of rice, beans and animal proteins. Please discuss with your trip leader if you require diet modifications for health purposes or personal preferences. You may need to bring supplemental foods with you.
Is it safe?
Haiti is a developing nation, and as such, experiences continued widespread poverty and periodic political unrest. As with travel to any developing nation, there are inherent dangers involved. However, the missions/clinics, hospitals and hotels we work and stay in are situated within locked and/or guarded compounds.
We have always felt safe and welcome when on the mission and various hotel properties. As with many developing nations, roadways are often unpaved and vehicle accidents are not uncommon. HUFH makes arrangements with experienced drivers to transport volunteers in as safe a manner as possible. Travel is usually limited to daylight hours.
What happens if I become sick in any way while on a Hands Up for Haiti trip?
In the event of illness or injury, we treat what we can on site. In the event of a serious illness or injury that requires treatment in the United States, we provide for medical evacuation, utilizing the MedJet Assist insurance we purchase for each volunteer to do so.
What about cholera, zika and other tropical diseases?
HUFH strongly recommends that all volunteers visit a travel clinic well in advance of your departure to discuss medical issues and recommended vaccinations and medications with a physician.
Zika virus, spread by mosquitos, is found in Haiti. The infection often causes no or only mild symptoms, similar to a very mild form of dengue fever. Zika can also spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus. This can result in microcephaly, severe brain malformations, and other birth defects. Zika infections in adults may result rarely in Guillain–Barré syndrome.
In January 2016, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued travel guidance on affected countries, including the use of enhanced precautions, and guidelines for pregnant women including considering postponing travel. Although Zika cannot be prevented by medications or vaccines, HUFH uses enhanced protections, including mosquito nets and bug sprays.
Cholera is an intestinal bacterium that is spread via contaminated water and food. While a vaccine has been created for this, it is not available in the United States. The CDC and WHO both maintain that vaccination is not 100% effective and is not a replacement for preventative measures, which include drinking only chlorinated/treated water and only eating fully cooked foods.
There have been sporadic outbreaks since the initial outbreak in 2010 that have been controlled.
Malaria is also a mosquito borne disease present in Haiti. We strongly recommend that our volunteers use an anti-malarial medication.
Check with the CDC for vaccination recommendations and updates: http://www.cdc.gov/travel/caribean.htm. Documentation of vaccinations is not required to enter Haiti, but it is strongly recommended that you be vaccinated against Typhoid and Hepatitis A. Measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio and Hepatitis B vaccines should be up to date.
My family members are nervous about me going to Haiti. What can I say to allay their fears?
The best thing you can do is to ask yourself, why is it that I want to work in Haiti? What are my personal and professional goals? Am I comfortable with the risks of traveling to a developing nation? Then be honest and explain your thought process to your family.
As an organization, we believe that having the support of your family is integral to your experience in Haiti and encourage you to ensure you have their support before applying for a mission trip.