First Impressions Of Volunteering In Haiti

I’ve been in Haiti for three days so far. Several hours in Port au Prince, and the rest of the time in Léogâne. In this short time I’ve seen some pretty amazing things. Maybe not amazing in the traditional sense though. Let’s divide this post into two separate sections. One for my impression of the overall Haitian experience, and another for the volunteer work. I apologize that this post is a bit rushed, but I’m expecting the internet to cut out for the day any second now. Or the generator. Whichever goes first I guess.

If I had to describe Haiti in one sentence; it’s just like some mad snow globe maker took equal parts people, cement, and mosquitoes, put it all in the oven, then shook the hell out of it. The devastation here is really amazing. Everywhere I look there are collapsed buildings and houses. There are shacks sitting in the streets made of out everything possible. Wherever there used to be a courtyard or field there’s now hundreds and hundreds of people trying to live in tents and under tarps. In this heat the middle of those packed solid tent cities must be pure hell. The streets are packed all day with people looking for work or running kids. I can’t imagine how they have the energy to run in this heat, but it’s really nice to see them having a good time. Despite all the suffering, the Haitians I have met so far have been quite nice. I suppose it says a lot about these people that they can be subjected to such catastrophe and still keep going.

The group I’m working with here is Hands On Disaster Response. We have a cool little base here in Léogâne built out of an old disco. We have  a lot of projects on the go all the time, but the one I started on was building some outdoor showers at a local hospital/clinic. Other projects are things like clearing rubble, transporting and organizing relief supplies, building fences and buildings, and so on. The projects change all the time, so the variety is fantastic. It seems like there are about three dozen folks here and everyone has been really nice. I suppose jerks aren’t drawn to travel really far to horrible conditions in order to volunteer.

So far I’m really happy with HODR and the projects here. I could do with a little less heat, humidity and mosquitoes, but such is life. Anyways, I’ll work on getting some good pictures soon — I feel bad taking pictures of people because it feels like the rest of the world just likes to gawk at the suffering. You know, like those jerks who slow down to stare at car crashes. If there’s anything you would like to know about Haiti, HODR, Heat, Humidity, Helicopters (you get to see some awesome UN and various military helicopters here), just holler.


// shawn

9 thoughts on “First Impressions Of Volunteering In Haiti”

  1. Shawn, I appreciate your insights on the ground and the fact you volunteered to help people in need. I look forward to learning more and understanding how we can help you and your specific mission.

    stay well, (it seems you are already quite adventurous)


  2. Good to hear you made it safely.
    Can’t imagine seeing the 360 degree view of some of those photos you posted.
    Look forward to further impressions.

  3. Please stay safe Shawnosaurus. I’m quite jealous you got to make it down there. How long will you be staying in Haiti? I’ll be patiently looking forward to your next post.

  4. Hey buddy, absorb everything and most importantly, keep sane and safe. We still have to do part deux of our twat up – see how I used that word in your honour? Stellar photos too!

  5. Thanks everyone! It’s really cool to come home from a dirty day of hard work and read your comments. It helps ease the heat exhaustion more than you would think :)

  6. Shawn, I wish there was a way that I could buy a beer. There’s got to be an app for that right? You are such an inspirational guy and I am a better person for knowing you. I cant believe you are in Haiti right now, but at the same time it doesnt surprise me. You give so much of yourself that going to Haiti to help is just another reason why you are the great guy you are.

    True story, I got your old XPS laptop and I have a policy that the only people who can use it have to be “Shawn Worth”y so I ask when the last time they did a good deed was – if it was within the last week, then they can use it; if not, then they get a crappy old computer that is on its last leg.

    Keep up the good work Shawn but please be safe!! :-)

  7. Great description: “some mad snow globe maker took equal parts people, cement, and mosquitoes, put it all in the oven, then shook the hell out of it.”

    Good luck!

  8. Shawn, looking forward to reading more about this experience. It’s great that you’re out there helping the people. I am sure they very much appreciate it.

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