Global Builders - Haiti

An opportunity to bring sustainable change

Haiti has long been the poorest country in the western hemisphere. In a country with few building inspectors and poor construction techniques, it was only a matter of time before tragedy struck.

When that tragedy appeared in the form of the January 2010 earthquake, the results were devastating. Thousands of buildings collapsed, killing 200,000 people and leaving well over a million people living in tent camps.

Today, relief efforts are behind them and long-term development is sorely needed, with permanent housing as greatest need and, perhaps, opportunity. Our volunteers are helping Haitians get back on their feet by building highly earthquake- and hurricane-resistant houses using locally-available materials and local labor, which creates jobs and supports the local economy.

Upcoming trip opportunities

Click on the leader's name to learn more about the leader and each trip. Click to apply for their trip. Or learn about joining as a virtual participant to provide jobs and support local labor.

City    
Team Leaders                                     
Dates of Trip                         
Cost      Status   
CDB Serve Beyond Cincinnati December 13-20, 2014     Full
Lambi Adat Shalom December 21-30, 2014     Full
Lambi Wanda Smith January 4-11, 2015     Full
CDB Joe McBride February 15-22, 2015 $1030     Join
Lambi Hooker, Tyler, and LaFountain April 12-19, 2015 $1030   Join
Gress. St. Mary's Young Adult Ministry May 17-23, 2015     Full
Lambi Main Street Congregational UCC April 20-26/May 1, 2015     Full
Lambi Midway Baptist Church                           June 12-21, 2015                                 Full

Or
propose a trip for your own church or open team!

Note: The Fuller Center is closely monitoring the cholera situation in Haiti and has prepared a Haiti Cholera Health Statement. For the latest travel advice regarding cholera, please go to the Centers for Disease Control's Cholera in Haiti page. 
 

Teams are scheduled to go to two locations:

Gressier (near Leogane) - Located near the epicenter of the earthquake and somewhat of a short drive from Port-au-Prince, we have partnered with Grace International to form a Covenant Partner called Grace Fuller Center for Housing. Our first site is several miles east of Leogane at a site named Lambi, where we have 7 acres of land and plans to build 70-90 homes. In addition to housing, we are helping to provide water, sanitation, and civic space.

The costs for our trips to Haiti will be about $980 - 1200, which include lodging, local transportation including airport pick-up, three meals per day, bottled water, security guards, travel health insurance, and a contribution toward building materials. Since factors like group size help determine the cost, we will work out a more accurate price after you submit your trip proposal.

Croix-des-Bouquets - In this community just east of Port-au-Prince, we are buliding small, economical homes in partnership with Homes from the Heart, whose founder Michael Bonderer also has partnered with us to build Fuller Center homes in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador. The homes are usually about 16 feet-by-16 feet, depending upon the sizes of the lots, which varies. "The recipients of these homes really like them, but they're not fancy," Bonderer said. "But they're shelter and a secure house for people to live in. That's what we originally promised, and that's what we are doing."

"We are now building and we're among the first organizations to be providing permanent shelter," Fuller Center President David Snell said. "We are moving forward with the important work of making decent housing a reality for the Haitian families who have suffered so much."


For more details on our work in Haiti, including house designs, a site master plan, family stories, and videos, please visit our main Haiti page.

Work Team FAQs

General

1. What is a typical schedule?
Be ready to be flexible! Schedules can change quickly in Haiti. Rain storms, communication, material supplies and more are unpredictable. We work hard to consider all the possibilities in order to plan for an enjoyable and productive work week.

All trips will last one week, typically Sunday through Friday or Saturday. Sunday offers a chance for attending a Haitian worship service. Saturday or Sunday afternoons there will be opportunity for some of the limited R&R available in Haiti, which must be coordinated in advance.

During work days, a typical schedule will look like this:           
6:00am - Devotions (optional)
7:00am - Breakfast
8:00-12:00pm - Worksite
12:00-1:00pm - Lunch (on site)
1:00-4:00pm - Worksite
6:00pm - Dinner
7:00 - Debriefing
9:00 - Bedtime

2. Will we have a chaperone or an interpreter?
Yes, Grace has a staff dedicated to making sure the group has a good experience and translators are included in the budget. Nevertheless, more than the words we say, working side-by-side with partner families and other Haitians to improve lives is a language that transcends barriers. 

3. Do you have any special packing recommendations?
We’ve put together a Haiti packing list to help with that.

For those planning on attending worship services, please note that at church services in Haiti men are expected to wear dress pants (not jeans), and they often wear a necktie. Men do not wear hats or shorts in church. When in church the women are expected to wear a skirt or dress and do not wear pants, shorts, low cuts, or any exotic wear. It is also custom that ladies wear a head covering - a simple hat will do - in services.

Our partners in Haiti ask that participants leave all jewelry, including body piercing jewelry, at home, with the possible exception of wedding rings.

4. Can we bring any supplies, medicine, or toys with us? If so, what can we bring?

Here is a list of items our partners could use: 39 gallon contractor strength clean-up trash bags, twin sheet sets and pillow cases, bath towels and wash cloths, hand soap and shampoo, paper plates and cups, plastic utensils, screw drivers and pliers, flash lights, AA AAA C and D batteries, children's shoes, children's clothes, children's vitamins (not expired), candies, peanut butter and jelly, paint brushes and rollers, note pads, HP ink cartridges (#60 black), pens and pencils, church microphones, French Bibles, English Bibles, and Creole Bibles.

Any or all help is appreciated!

5. What security is provided?

Staff members pick up volunteers directly at the airport. We host volunteers in facilities with their own special security. As needed during the day, we also hire additional security guards to be with the group during transportation and to be present at the worksite.

6. Who are the families we're building with? Generally speaking, how were they impacted by the quake?

Our main focus is working with families who lost their homes - and more - during the earthquake. Permanent housing remains perhaps the greatest need in Haiti, with over a million Haitians living in simple tents or shelters made of scrap wood or metal. During the rainy season, families use layers of tarps over the roofs and set the tents on layers of old broken concrete block to attempt to prevent flooding. This affects every aspect of their lives. Many of them are currently staying on open land owned by Grace International.

Read more about some of our recent homeowners in Haiti.

7. Will the homes we're building withstand the next earthquake?

Because of the likelihood of aftershocks in the years to come, this is a top priority of our building efforts. We have experience building homes around the world, and are using designs from Engineering Ministries International created specifically for this project. Monitoring and improving quality control--for example, preventing shortcuts in the mixing of cement and carefully reviewing techniques with our masons--will help create more resilient structures.

8. Is there any kind of insurance provided with this trip?

Yes. As part of The Fuller Center's Global Builders program, all registered participants will be enrolled in our emergency travel insurance program, which includes some coverage for emergency medical and political evacuation. Please contact globalbuilders@fullercenter.org for a copy of the coverage.

9. Do I need any special shots prior to leaving?

You might. Please check with the Centers for Disease Control for advice and information.  

Transportation

10. How do arrivals work? Will someone meet us at the airport? How will we get to/from the airport and where we're staying? 

Members of a team should coordinate their flights with the help of their team leader. All members should arrive within 90 minutes of each other - ideally on the same flight. Participants should arrive before 2:00pm to avoid being on the road at night in Haiti.

Both of our locations are about 1.5-2.0 hours from the airport, so it is important that flights are coordinated with the team leader to ensure that they arrive together.

11. How will we get around throughout the week?
We either borrow vehicles from Grace International or rent them as needed. We hire a driver to navigate the Haitian roads.

Lodging


12. Where will we be staying? Does it have electricity, running water and bathroom facilities?
We have several different lodging options and locations: two near Balan and two near Gressier. In Balan there is both a hotel and a volunteer house option, in Gressier there is a hotel or the facility of the University of Notre Dame. The hotels tend to be slightly nicer (and more pricey), but all four will meet the basic needs mentioned in the question. Most of the facilities do have some internet access, but it comes and goes and so we would recommend that our groups come expecting not to have any.

13. Will we be able to do any laundry while we're there?
If needed, a local worker can be hired to do the laundry, but since trips are only one week, you might as well pack as though you will not have it.

14. Do we need to bring toiletries, bed linens, towels, blankets, etc?
Bed linens are provided and additional blankets are probably not needed in the hot climate. Each participant should bring their own toiletries and towels.

15. Are mosquito nets needed and if so are they provided?
Mosquito nets are not provided, and whether they are needed or not is a matter of personal discretion. Most American visitors have chosen to use bug spray or put dryer sheets near beds to help keep mosquitos away. However, team members can bring their own mosquito net if they prefer.

16. How are meals, food, and water handled?
Food and water must be handled carefully in Haiti, and so whether from reputable hotels or cooks whose standards and methods we are familiar with, we work hard to ensure that groups will have safe and nutritious, albeit fairly simple, meals. We provide three meals per day – typically breakfast and dinner where you are staying and lunch on the work site. Purified water is also always available and provided, usually in five-gallon containers, so you will want to bring your own reusable bottle.

Worksite

17. What type of work can we expect to do?
Come ready for anything. Work could include laying block, clearing rubble, applying stucco, cutting rebar, mixing concrete, or other tasks. Every job is important. Expect it to be sunny and HOT. Shade is limited. Heavy water consumption is a must all day long. You may want to bring electolyte replacement powders.

18. Are there any tools we should bring?
We will provide the tools you need, but extras never hurt. Some suggested tools inlclude: a hammer, tape, chalk line, 2' level, trowels, hand saw, battery-powered tools, concrete float, wire cutters (lineman pliers), tin snips, tool bag, extension cord, utility knife and blades, carpenter pencils, and tool belts.

R&R

19. Will we have days off from the build?
Sunday is a non-working day. If coordinated in advance, a group may want to set aside one day for R&R.

20. What can we do on Sunday or an off-day? Are there any R&R opportunities?
If desired, we can help arrange for the group to attend Haitian church services. R&R opportunities are limited in Haiti, but in Gressier one opportunity is to visit a nearby Baptist Mission overlooking a valley, where there is a small zoo, garden area, and some shops.

Trip Preparation

Are you unsure of how to prepare for such an experience or just looking for some tips on how to be better prepared? If so, we suggest you take a look at our Trip Preparation page where you will find a lot of helpful information and links - Preparing For Your Trip!

What happens after the trip?

Even after you return, your trip can have a sustained impact on both you and the community in which you served! Learn how on our Country Champions page.

<<Back to Upcoming Trips