A number of persons have expressed interest in learning more about how to participate in one of our group’s mission trips to Haiti. We usually organize three or four trips a year. The trips can be an extraordinary spiritual and cultural experience for anyone who is prepared to encounter an environment unlike anything in the United States. A few general facts are important to keep in mind if you are thinking about going to Haiti:
• Trips are open to anyone without regard to church affiliation, including our partners at St. Kateri parish in Virginia and St. Anselm in Missouri.
• We have different kinds of mission trips. Medical missions usually include 4-6 doctors and nurses who spend about four days providing primary care in the remote village of Bouly. Other trips focus on support for the two primary and secondary schools we operate in Boucan Carre, the home of our sister parish, St. Michel. A third category is the annual student mission that takes place in March during spring break in Boucan Carre, often with an optional trip to Bouly.
• The trips can be physically challenging. The weather is hot, sometimes more than 100 degrees. Persons need to be in reasonably good shape for the trek to Bouly, which takes about six hours on foot across a large mountain.
• Conditions in rural Haiti are primitive. Our new rectory in Boucan Carre has nice rooms with a toilet and shower, but no air conditioning. The food is simple but good. Our accommodations in Bouly, while safe, have few amenities. There are no flush toilets. The food is plain and the water is filtered in our clinic. There are no stores of any kind to buy food or beverages.
• The trips are not for everybody. Many who go to Haiti have experiences that are literally life-changing. Unfortunately, some who go with unrealistic expectations have less positive experiences. We do not have a hard and fast rule, but we generally discourage persons under age 16 or persons who are not used to walking for long periods.
• Participants in the trips are responsible for their own costs, including airfare. Airfare is subject to price variations, but round trip tickets from Knoxville are generally in the range of $770-870. Some drive to Atlanta and save about $200.
We are currently planning four trips to Haiti over the next six months.
November 29-December. 4: Install solar panels in Bouly clinic. Billy Stair, 310-7833
December 15-22: Medical mission. Dr. Drew Dirmeyer, 679-5444
Early February: Medical mission. Dr. Dean Mire, 384-3391
March 18-22: Student trip. Cindy Mire, 384-3392
Anyone interested in learning more about our program can visit our website at haitioutreachprogram.com. Our next meeting will be Thursday, September 6, at 6:30 in the library of Sacred Heart School.