I don't get it - what is IKONDO?
IKONDO is a private, hosting facility owned and operated by the Hands and Feet Project. Designed to accommodate visitors on missional experiences, IKONDO strives to create dignified, hospitality based jobs that push against Haiti’s growing orphan and child abandonment crisis. While providing life-changing experiences and adventures for it’s guests and life-giving jobs for it’s employees, IKONDO exhibits the broader goal of rekindling Haiti’s stunted tourism industry. IKONDO, operating under Hands and Feet Project’s 501c3, pours it’s net profits back into mission of Hands and Feet, caring for the orphaned and abandoned, and fighting to keep families together.
What's the difference between this and a regular mission trip?
Intentionality. Historically, mission trips provide a “savior” experience for the trip-goer, rather than a sustainable solution for the families in our communities. In many ways, our “regular” mission trips have created more dependency by taking away jobs and stripping Haiti of it’s pride and dignity. Our trips are dedicated to create a more equitable exchange between our guests and our hosts. Although you will have opportunities to serve, you must be willing to be served as well. Our Haitian hosts want to show you their country's hospitality, it's potential, and it’s beauty.
How do I raise money for that kind of trip?
Our trips can be paid for “in full” by the guests or in conjunction with crowd funding. Trip fees are considered donations, as every trip contributes to our Chirst-centered mission of caring for children in need and helping families thrive.
What will we do? (sample daily schedule)
Every trip is different, but the normal day at IKONDO begins with Bible study and prayer, followed by breakfast. Following the morning meal, guest will have an opportunity to serve in the local community with our seasoned US and Haitian team, visit our Children’s Village, or experience the different regions of Haiti. The afternoons are usually dedicated to experiencing Haiti’s beauty, whether it is snorkeling a colorful reef system, visiting an historic site, or getting to know Haiti’s beautiful people in and around IKONDO. Evenings are focused on worship, fellowship, and conversations on how Jesus calls us to love and serve our neighbors around the world.
Who can go?
We invite individuals of ages 5 and up to join us at our Mission Guest Village, providing they are of adequate health to handle the environment. If there are health concerns we may ask for a medical release of travel from your doctor. Minors between 5-14 years of age can travel with a team as long as they are accompanied by a parent or guardian. Minors between 15-17 years of age can travel to one of our Villages with an accompanying adult 25 or older in addition to a signed a notarized release of travel form from their parent/guardian. A copy of this document will be submitted to the Hands and Feet Project US Office and the minor must carry the original copy with them.
How much does it cost to stay at IKONDO?
Costs will vary dependent upon the type of trip you attend. This cost (Project Fee) only covers your stay; it does NOT include airfare, baggage fees or any additional expenses. Please refer to our Financial Policies for additional information.
How many guests can I bring?
Please contact our Trip Administrator for the most up to date housing availability. Please note that your week at IKONDO will be spent with other small groups, families, and individuals. We do our best to host everyone who is interested in visiting our Mission Guest Village.
When can I visit?
HAFP hosts guests year round. Availability during March and October run from Saturday to Saturday. Trips during regular season (all other months) run from Tuesday to Tuesday. You will work with our Trip Administrator to book an available week.
Do I need a passport or travel visa?
Yes, everyone must have a valid passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return date from Haiti or you will NOT be allowed to travel. Passports can take a few months to process, so ensure that you have applied for yours in plenty of time. You can obtain the most current processing times from your local post office. Please visit the US Department of State website at: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html for more information on applying for a passport.
You will be given a travel visa for Haiti on your flight to Port-au-Prince. This will be a green form that you will complete; customs officials will return the bottom portion to you once you arrive in customs. Ensure that each member on your team keeps this green card in his or her passport; you will need it for departure.
Is it safe?
Haiti is an unstable country politically. The US Department of State does list Haiti as a dangerous country. The majority of the unrest is in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. All air travel into Haiti goes through the Port-au-Prince airport. The Villages are located two to four hours from Port-au-Prince. The Hands and Feet Project makes the safety of our children, staff and guests a high priority. We continually monitor the environment and adapt where we see appropriate. The Mission Guest Village in Ikondo has a natural barrier but is also staffed with security at any given time. The people of Haiti are friendly and it is safe to walk around town in groups with a member of HAFP staff. However, being foreigners in Haiti, you will stand out, therefore we ask you to use caution when traveling off-site. Under NO circumstances may you travel off-site without prior approval from our on the field Trip Host.
For up to date information from the US Department of State please visit: http://haiti.usembassy.gov/service/us-citizen-services/travel-warning.html
Will we need immunizations?
The Center for Disease Control makes recommendations for immunizations, vaccinations, and other health precautions for every country. However, it is ultimately up to you and your doctor to determine which vaccinations or immunizations you will need. These expenses are NOT covered in your Project Fee. A tetanus booster and Malaria pills are strongly recommended by HAFP.
Where do we stay?
All guests will stay on campus at our Mission Guest Village in IKONDO, Grand Goave unless otherwise approved.
Our Mission Guest Village is currently undergoing additional construction, please contact our Trip Administrator for the most up-to-date housing arrangements.
Our Mission Guest Village has electricity (most of the time). Bedding and bath towels are provided, please bring your own beach towel.
What do we eat?
Teams will eat Creole food provided by our Haitian cooks onsite.
*You may bring in dessert mixes and snacks. There will not be an abundance of snacks as you may be accustomed to in the United States.
*If you have any food allergies, please bring additional food to accommodate your dietary needs.
Safe drinking water is provided. Please bring a refillable water bottle.
How do we travel once in country?
A Hands and Feet Project staff member, or a trusted driver, will pick you up from the Port-au-Prince airport. Our on-site trip host will communicate these arrangements to you closer to your travel date.
What will we do during the week?
We desire to empower our Haitian employees by encouraging them to be the workforce in Haiti. HAFP hires local workers to accomplish the majority of our organizational needs so Haitian men and women can provide for their families. However, there are service projects that can often times be supplemented by guests.
After determining the skills, talents, and preferences of our guests, our staff will provide projects and activities accordingly, to best fit the present needs. Projects may consist of new construction, repairs, painting, laying block, organizing, cleaning, etc. Excursions could include, but are not limited to, visiting the local beach, hikes, the local market, etc. These off-site excursions will help to give you a better understanding of day-to-day life in Haiti. Projects and activities change on a day-to-day basis, the key is to remain flexible. We also encourage you to take some down time to simply enjoy the beauty of Haiti and further your relationships with fellow teammates.
Is there a dress code?
For females, modest shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, dresses and skirts may be worn the majority of the week. You will need a skirt with a short-sleeved (no tank tops) top or dress for church and a modest bathing suit for the beach. Old clothes and tennis shoes will be needed for working. Sandals are great for walking around the community and non-project related activities.
For males, shorts, t-shirts and tank tops may be worn the majority of the week. You will need a nice pair of pants and a shirt with a collar for church services. Old clothes and tennis shoes will be needed for working. Sandals are great for walking around the community and non-project related activities.
Do we need to bring supplies?
We are frequently asked if there are additional supply needs. Please note that this is optional! Often times there are supplies needed that are unavailable, scarce, or overpriced in Haiti. As this is optional, if you are interested in contributing to our supply needs please email our Trip Administrator and you will be provided a supply list. With the high volume of guests HAFP is unable to send you a supply list any sooner than 4-6 weeks before your arrival to Haiti. This will help us keep our supplies at a maintainable level.
What personal items should we bring?
The following items are recommended: Bible, journal, appropriate clothing, flashlight, small hand sanitizer, insect repellent, sunscreen, personal medications, water bottle, flavored water packets, snacks for travel days, beach towel, and toiletries.
Can we bring gifts for our sponsored children or others?
We understand the desire to give gifts to our kids, staff and neighbors. However, we do ask that you refrain from giving or promising ANY gifts (including monetary gifts) directly to any individual. Many times when gifts are given, even with the best intentions, problems may arise after you have left. This can create issues for our staff and future guests.
If you would like to bring a gift to your sponsored child we ask that you bring sentimental gifts, i.e. photo books, letters, pictures of your family, etc. Our children cherish items that are specific to them. If you do wish to bring toys or games we cannot guarantee that it will go to your specific sponsored child, it will be placed in our depot to be used for birthday gifts or rewards for exceptional behavior, grades, etc.
How do airline tickets work?
We will reserve airfare for groups of 15 or more, all other travelers will be responsible for booking their own airfare BASED ON THE FLIGHTS TIMES DESIGNATED BY HAFP. Flights for groups of 15 or more will not be booked until all funds have been submitted to the HAFP office. We ask that you purchase flights that arrive/depart PAP after 9 AM and before 4:00 PM. If you are unable to find a flight that meets our request, contact the Trip Administrator before booking for approval. There will be a fee associated with any off-travel pickup. The safety of our guests is a high priority and traveling during daylight hours is an added measure of safety. If your group decides to purchase a flight with an arrival outside of that time frame, please note that if our Haitian team determines the roads are not safe to travel at night when you arrive, your team will need to stay at a nearby hotel (HAFP will arrange if deemed necessary) and your team will be responsible for all costs incurred. If there are any changes in your flight times it is your responsibility to notify our Trip Administrator of updated flight times.
Will we be able to use the Internet or Mobile Phones?
While wi-fi is available at IKONDO, please note there is limited bandwidth and it may be inconsistent. While typically great for sending an email or two, or a quick social media post you should not depend on it for large file downloads or streaming. Please leave your personal computers at home. You may bring your mobile phone if you so choose, however, please keep in mind that international rates are very expensive and HAFP is not responsible for loss or damage to your phone during your time in Haiti. We recommend that teams use this time to ‘disconnect’ from the fast pace of everyday life and immerse themselves in the culture of Haiti.
Do we need to be able to speak the local language?
Kreyol is the native language in Haiti. It is not necessary to be able to speak the language but it is respected by locals and staff, learning key phrases can prove helpful. The following link is a great tool: http://www.kreyol.com/dictionary.html
You can also find Kreyol dictionaries on Amazon.
How can I prepare for my visit?
Upon your arrival at the Mission Guest Village, our on-site staff will give a brief orientation and will be able to answer any specific questions you may have. There are many great books that discuss serving cross-culturally and in impoverished nations, in addition to books that talk about orphan care and how to best approach this sensitive topic. These books can give you some helpful tools as you prepare for your cross-cultural experience. We have a few recommendations, but please feel free to research further.
Please keep in mind that these are simply recommendations by HAFP, based on the notion that they contain educational content. Please read all texts with your discretion.