1) Where is Haiti? Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. Haiti is located 700 miles from Miami, Florida. This is the same distance as Boston, Massachusetts to Detroit, Michigan.
2) Who can go to Haiti with Forward in Health? Forward in Health has welcomed people from a diversity of backgrounds to travel with us to Haiti. This has included lawyers, high school and college students, teachers, retired businessmen, doctors, nurses, EMTs, and a state representative. The only requirements are a desire to open your mind and heart to the people of a third world country and willingness to step outside of your comfort zone.
3) What will I gain from the trip? This is as varied as the different personalities that travel. Everyone leaves Haiti profoundly touched by the people and their level of poverty. The trip can be a life changing event as your priorities, ideas of social justice, and the realization that people you have met, not just pictures on TV, are living in poverty. You will gain more than you give.
4) What preparation is required before the trip? All first travelers are required to attend 3-4 preparation sessions with Paula Mulqueen, RN.
5) Do you have to be a doctor or nurse? No. Anyone who travels on a medical trip is put to work during the clinic. No prior medical training is required. Jobs include obtaining intake information from patients, working in the pharmacy, and crowd control to ensure proper patient flow.
6) What will I do when I am there? During medical trips non-medical personnel work obtaining intake information from patients, in the pharmacy with nurses, and crowd control to ensure proper patient flow. On non-clinic days or non-medical trips activities include visiting Mother Teresa’s Sisters of Charity orphanage and home for the sick and dying, visiting a local nursing home often completing a service project there, interacting with local high school students, community service projects, and most trips end with a day at the beach swimming in warm Caribbean waters and eating at a local beach restaurant. Don’t tell or everyone will want to go!
7) Do I need a passport? Yes. If you do not have one, applications are obtained at the post office. Leave sufficient time for the application process; usually 3-4 months to be safe.
8) Is there a minimum age requirement? Yes. Travelers with Forward in Health must be 16 years old on the date of travel and minors need written consent from their parents. Students must all sign a code of conduct before traveling.
9) Do I need special vaccines or medications? Yes. All travelers to Haiti should take Malarone to prevent Malaria. In addition to making sure that all routine vaccines are up to date, including Hepatitis B and Tetanus, a vaccine for Hepatitis A is encouraged. It is always a good idea to check with a local travel clinic.
10) How long are the trips? Trips last 7-8 days.
11) How much does it cost? Much of the travel expense is related to the cost of the airline ticket. Most trips range roughly from $1,600 to $2,100.
12) Where do we stay when we are in Haiti? Forward in Health groups stay at the Forward in Health Guest House in downtown Les Cayes. Travelers sleep on small beds or cots with 2-3 people per room. Bathrooms with running water, showers, and toilets are included. Breakfast and supper is provided. Electricity, as is true in all of Haiti, is intermittent at best.
13) Can we drink the water? You cannot drink the running water in Haiti. Clean bottled water is provided and is safe to drink.
14) What is the food like? We do bring snack food for our travelers. Local food provided includes citron (lime) and mango juice, coffee, fruits such as banana and mango, oatmeal, eggs, bread, rice and beans, chicken, fish, beef, goat, salad, and local vegetables.
15) Is it safe to travel to Haiti? The US government has had a travel restriction to Haiti for many years. This is unfortunately part of the experience in traveling to a third world country. Governmental instability and poor infrastructure are as much a part of Haiti as the heat. Street demonstrations for better food, electricity, and jobs occur at times. We make sure that we steer clear of any and all gatherings of groups of people. Safety is a priority for Forward in Health and trips have been cancelled because of safety concerns. We rely heavily on our director in Haiti, to judge the atmosphere and inform us if there is unrest brewing. We will cancel a trip up until the group leaves Miami.
16) How hot is it in Haiti? Haiti is hot year round and temperatures in the 90’s during the day and 70’s at night are common. One advantage is that being on the coast there is often a nice breeze to provide some relief.
17) What do I bring? You must fit anything that you want to bring into a carryon suitcase and backpack. You will need less than you think. Detailed information can be obtained on our web site here: TRAVEL INFO
18) I am not in a position to travel with Forward in Health but would like to help. How can I do that? There are many ways to help our efforts in Haiti. Donations are welcome and are needed to continue our work. To make a tax deductible donation visit our web site donation page. We finance the operating costs of our medical clinic, which sees patients, runs a pharmacy, lab and and x-ray. All of these areas can use your help.
19) Is my donation tax deductible? Forward in Health is a 501(3)c non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible. Our Federal charity tax id number is 11-3771348
21) How did it start? Forward in Health was founded by Paula and John Mulqueen in 2006. John and Paula have been traveling to Haiti since 2001 and FIH is their response to the need for a permanent, rather than intermittent, medical presence in southern Haiti.
22) Where does FIH work? Forward in Health works in the southern region of Haiti in the area of Les Cayes.
23) How will my donation be spent? Unless a donation is specified for a particular purpose, Forward in Health applies all donations where they are most needed. This may include purchasing medications prior to a medical trip or financing the operations of Klinic Fonfred.
24) Who is employed by Forward in Health? Forward in Health is a volunteer run organization. We have no paid employees in the US. Our medical clinic has paid employees who are all Haitian. They are paid a fair wage based on Haitian employment.
25) Will I receive a receipt for my donation to FIH? Yes, you will receive an acknowledgement letter for your donation that will also serve as your tax receipt
26) What happens if we get sick there? In addition to the medical personnel on medical teams, at least one registered nurse travels on all student trips.Travelers are at risk for dehydration because of the heat. Everyone is encouraged to drink plenty of water. Two emergency kits are available and include IV fluids and medications for minor illnesses including traveler’s diarrhea. Included in each traveler’s trip expenses is $25 for insurance coverage for “Haiti Air Ambulance.” They are available if the need occurs to transport a traveler to one of four hospitals in Port-au-Prince for further care.