Rebuilding Haiti, and Its Tourism
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While there are thousands of opportunities for doing unadulterated volunteer work in Haiti, a few programs have distinguished themselves by adopting a voluntourism-type business model. These programs augment their work on community-building projects with visits to some of the country’s natural and cultural treasures.
Elevate Destinations runs trips based in Cyvadier, a village just outside the south-coast city of Jacmel. Its volunteer projects, which include construction, agronomy, and workshops with local children, are done in partnership with the organization Let Haiti Live. Trip participants also make visits to beaches, waterfalls, and art galleries in Jacmel and Port-au-Prince. elevatedestinations.com; lethaitilive.org
The Village Experience offers trips to Haiti’s northern coast. Participants make their home base in the city of Cap-Haïtien, from which they travel to several of the area’s UNESCO World Heritage sites and beaches. They also take part in community outreach projects—including literacy, education, and economic development—in conjunction with Haitian organization Sonjé Ayiti. experiencethevillage.com; sonjeayiti.com
Yoga Ventures runs weeklong trips to Jacmel that incorporate daily yoga and meditation sessions; trips to local museums, galleries, festivals, and cooking classes; and volunteer projects with several local organizations, including the Jacmel Children’s Center and Angel Wings International. yogaventures.org; jacmelchildren.org; angelwingsinternational.org
Mountain Bike Ayiti is introducing the first part of what will eventually be an 80-mile multistage race between Port-au-Prince and Jacmel in January 2013. Not only will participants get to compete on challenging terrain against bikers from around the world, they’ll also work to clear and improve trails for subsequent races (thus helping to bring more long-term adventure events to the country). mtbayiti.org
For runners who want to contribute by supporting Haiti’s new focus on extreme sports, Run Haiti is holding its second annual 60-mile race, which will bring runners from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel; February 7–9, 2013. runhaiti.com