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UCD Volunteers Overseas

Haiti Project

UCDVO has been running projects in Gros Morne in north-west Haiti since 2005. Since then, over 200 volunteers have spent one month working within this same community. UCDVO works with two missionary sisters, Sr. Patricia Dillon and Sr. Jackie Picard from the Religious of Jesus and Mary (RJM), to implement community development projects which have included the construction of houses, schools, shelters, latrines, flood prevention walls; and summer camps for almost 2000 children from the local area.

‘It was a privilege to observe both close up and from a distance just how much the kids were responding to the volunteers and how much of a difference every single person in our group was making to these children.’ - Patrick O’Neill, Group Leader 2010

"The impact we left may not make headlines, but trying to aid the development of Haiti is a bit like trying to negotiate its landscape. It will be a long and arduous journey. So many of the factors which hold it back are external, and policies made in offices far away in the US or Europe are the deciding factors for the future of Haiti. But people on the ground make the real difference to the people of Haiti. And in that cause UCDVO can do no better. May it continue its good work for years to come." - Donagh Humphries, Student Volunteer, Haiti 2009 project

Niall Murphy, a UCDVO volunteer, spent 6 months in Haiti in 2011. Niall was UCDVO's first long-term volunteer. Read about his experience through his blog:


Haiti Country Profile

The Republic of Haiti, or simply Haiti, is located in the Caribbean islands. Haiti is the third largest country in the Caribbean and also the first independent nation in Latin America. Unfortunately, it is known to the world today due to the horrifying earthquake that struck its capital city of Port-au-Prince in January 2010. The massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake was assessed as the worst in this region over the last 200 years.

Estimates are that over 300,000 people were killed and some 1.5 million left homeless. Haiti today is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. It has a population of just over 10.1 million and 54% of Hatians live on less than a dollar a day. Its location in the Caribbean means that it is prone to the effects of tropical storms and hurricanes. It also suffers from economic and political instability.

Climate: Tropical; semiarid where mountains in east cut off trade winds. Average temperature June/ July 30 Celsius.

Capital: Port-au-Prince

Head of State: Michel Martelly

Security Issues: While hundreds of thousands of people safely visit Haiti every year, it is important to remember that Port-au-Prince and city areas can be hazardous and has a high crime rate. Be particularly cautious on days when political activities are planned. Take common-sense precautions and avoid any event where crowds may congregate.

Population: 10 Million

Time: GMT -6

Health: Be mentally and physically prepared before you go, consider taking Acidophilus (probiotics) and a good quality multi-vitamin in advance.

Currency: Haitian Gourde and United States Dollar.

Language: Haitian Creole and French. All Hatians speak Creole but only 2 to 5% speak French.

Religion: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 20%. The New World Afro-diasporic religion of Voodoo is also widely practiced particularly in rural parts of the country.

Accommodation: You will be based in the town of Gros Morne for the duration of the project and will stay at a community facility called “Grepin” with approximately 3-4 volunteers per room. Power cuts are a possibility.

Dress: It could be very hot and humid. You may be most comfortable in loose fitting cotton clothing. Clothing must be neat and modest. Haitian and Dominican men and women are generally very modest and conservative in their dress.

Food: Haitian cuisine tends to be moderately spicy, not mild and not too hot. Its primary influences are French and African. Breakfast and dinner is provided at Grepin and you eat lunch at the summer camps.

Ethnic groups: Mestizo (mixed Amerindian and white) 69%, white 17%, black 9%, Amerindian 5%.

 5 Things You Should Know‌

  1. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. 78.0% of the population is living in poverty.
  2. Life expectancy in Haiti is 61.43 Years.
  3. Literacy rate for those over 15 is 48.7%.
  4. Living in Haiti you spend an average 4.9 years at school. Women receive less than half as many years of schooling as men.
  5. Only 49% of the rural population has access to safe and clean water.


UCDVO Key Project Achievements 2005 - 2015

  • 110 latrines built to improve sanitation 
  • 20 stone walls built in the ravines for flood prevention 
  • Construction of eleven houses  and two classrooms
  • Home for the elderly extended and renovated 
  • Over 4,000 children involved in educational summer camps 
  • Extension to Bigue Community School 
  • Haiti Earthquake appeal: over €106,000 raised in one month 
  • Construction of food storage facility
  • Solar powered computer lab and ICT training for teachers 

Partner Organisations

  • RJM Missionaries, Haiti
  • Camara Haiti 


Click here to view photos of UCDVO's projects in Haiti.