Quote from milana
I've been looking online for an opportunity to volunteer in Haiti for possibly the entire month of May. Would you share info about your group and/or how you found them? Thanks so much and welcome back. (my experience is 2 years ER)
Just walked in the door this morning after a week there, and it was an experience (both great and not so great). The good part was being able to deliver care and assistance to patients that would otherwise do without (from quake related issues to routine care criteria); the bad part was that the group I'd gone with was, in my personal opinion, disorganized and poorly planned.
The organization, Haitian American Care, Inc., which had a web site previously found at:
...is run by a Haitian ex pat, who overflows with enthusiasm, generosity, charity and has a heart of gold. You can immediately tell that he genuinely understands the plight of his people, and feels the need to help in any way that he can. He does do a tremendous amount of work towards that goal. However, from the admittedly brief contact that I'd had with his group (again, in my personal opinion); they lack forethought, imagination, and organizational oversight, to the point that it almost crippled the mission from the outset. An example of this was, a firm airline commitment to ship our mission critical supplies (as a humanitarian courtesy) was not in hand on the day of flight. The HACI leader stated that the carrier's corporate office had previously authorized it, but he had no documented proof on his person. The ticket agent at the counter thus refused to allow the supplies, and only did so after he paid an additional fee. He later contracted a transport company that drove barely serviceable, undersized and underpowered vehicles. The drivers kept badgering the team for more money beyond what was originally negotiated for. The organization lacked a reliable working timetable; their expectations of time required for travel was wholly unrealistic. What was described beforehand as being "...only a 45 minute short drive from the border," turned out in reality to be a five hour drive. On our return trip, his contracted drivers attempted to board two unknown women until our group vehemently objected. I have no proof, but it is my personal suspicion that they had wanted to allow our large American group of nurses to provide suitable cover for their undocumented passage from Haiti to the Dominican Republic; in essence, human smuggling.
I just checked their web page and noted that their site is listed as expired as of 28 MAR, and is pending renewal. Figures; obviously, they seem to have major issues with their back office support and that's a real shame. Their's is a grass roots effort that reaches parts of the Haitian community where many NGO's yet haven't. They would be of much greater effectiveness if they could only get their logistics and management house in order.
To be fair, despite all the negatives (and there were many), going to Haiti remained one of the most professionally fulfilling and personally satisfying things that I'd ever done. I just wish that it could have been better managed. As for your desire to go? Do so; however, my only suggestion is, to go with a bigger or more well known organizations like the Red Cross, or Doctor's Without Borders. If I ever go again, that's who I would go with instead.