Groups have gone and contributed in many ways such as painting churches and schools, assisting with electrical and plumbing work, building and installing cabinets, repairing vehicles and equipment, etc. Some have bought land and others have gone to build a church on that land. Each team needs cooks and some teams prepare a VBS program for the school. Some have financially helped others to go. Still others have sent money with a team to hire Haitian workers to take their place. We attempt to hire a Haitian worker for each team member in order to give them employment, teach us skills, and learn skills to use in finding employment after we are gone. It also aids in building relationships and giving Haitians pride in their accomplishments. Our desire is to come alongside the people of Haiti as friends and coworkers building together and learning from each other.
FOHO Missions maintains an apartment in Port au Prince for incoming work teams. It is located within a block of an ICCM school, Parc Chretien FM Church and the International Child Care Ministries offices and is inside the walls of the Bible Institute Compound. Pictures are below. The men’s bedroom sleeps eight with four bunkbeds.The women’s bedroom sleeps six with three bunkbeds. The kitchen is fully equipped with a refrigerator, gas stove, coffeemaker, microwave oven, pans, dishes, utensils, etc. Culligan water is used. There is a main dining/living room. The balcony is a fun place to have your morning coffee and watch the neighbors head to school, jobs, etc. The Bible Institute has a night watchman, so the apartment is in a very safe spot. The compound is very shaded, beautiful and refreshing. The inside bathroom is 1 toilet/1 shower but in the winter of 2013 a team built 3 new showers and a shower/toilet stall in the courtyard.The new showers are beautiful and even have water pressure! (Side note here. Water is scarce in Haiti so the following rules apply: When showering, quickly get wet and turn water off, soap up, turn water back on and quickly rinse off.) (Side Note 2: the toilet rule is “If it brown, flush it down. If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Anything else goes in the wastebasket.
Things to Consider Before Going
- Avoid cultural forcefulness – in other words, you cannot bring your American culture, way of life, and expectations and expect the people to respond to you in a positive manner. It is important to learn their culture and adapt yourself to their way of life. There is showing each other new ways but there cannot be a forcing of this which will not be very well received. It is about people and relationships first.
- Flexibility – being flexible is one of the greatest qualities you will need when you go. If you go with a certain agenda, you might as well get rid of it. Your plans can even change before you arrive at your destination. You have to go with a mentality of it is about the people, not about me. It is about serving in whatever capacity you are called to serve and then do it. If your job description changes 5 times in a day. That is ok. That is life and that is where God wants you and what He needs you to do right then.
- Cameraism – When you take your phone or camera, make sure that you ask people if it is ok to take their picture. You do not want to offend. If you do take pictures use discretion and not be obvious.
- Be opened to be blessed – make sure that you go with an open heart to be blessed yourself. You go to bless others, but you may come back with a greater blessing than when you left. They can bless you more than you want them to sometimes but be open to the blessings God may have for you.
- Go with people as first priority, not projects – Projects are important, but people are why this organization exists. Look for opportunities to build relationships. Look for opportunities to care for those around you. Look people in the eye and just try to say hello in their language and smile. Most will respond in return because you are attempting to enter their culture and be open to them.
- Culture shock – you may go in with certain preconceived ideas of how things will be and what the people will be like and how the country will be. Your ideals may not match the real and you will find yourself having to adjust and that is ok. Give yourself permission to deal with the different culture. Give yourself time to adjust. Know that you will not get everything right the first time. The more you go the more you will know. It is ok if you are off balance for a little while. You will come around!
- Watch for scams – just like here there are people and scams everywhere. Just because someone ask you for something or money doesn’t mean that they need it. You have to use much discretion in this matter. If you do not know then ask your team leader or if you have something to give, give it to the missionary or local pastor because they will know the needs of the people in their area.