We use backpacks for a lot of reasons! If you look through the backpack of a student, you may find common items like notebooks, highlighters, calculators. But have you ever needed a backpack to get through a ten day mission trip in Haiti? Well we have! And let me tell you, it is quite the task trying to figure out how in the world to fit ten days worth of necessary and ultra-handy materials into a backpack that must simultaneously be small enough to count as your carry on item for your flight to Haiti. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that you are limited to a carry on and a personal item for your mission? (We each get one checked bag in which you check a trunk filled with our medical supplies.)
As much of a "first world problem" as that may sound, there are a lot of gizmos and gadgets that are a huge help to a successful mission trip. No worries guys, it honestly was not as hard as you may be imagining! Before the trip, you will be provided a thorough packing list. At first glance, you might read a few of the items and think "eh, I could probably go without that.." but PLEASE, think again! For someone, at some point, this item was needed! From all of us at Flourish Collective Inc. that have learned it the hard way, we encourage you to take our word!
For anyone wanting to get a jump start on their mission packing for January 2018, here is a compiled list of the most highly suggested items that you get to figure out how to cram into YOUR backpack:
Haiti Team Packing List
***You are limited to one carry-on bag, and one medium carry-on backpack/bag for your personal items. Exception: your liquids, lightweight sleeping bag/blanket, small air mat, and pillow will go in large trunks to be checked on. Check-on trunks will also contain medical supplies and other items needed for our trip.
--One carry-on size suitcase (much easier to get around airports if it has wheels)
--Medium size backpack (for items that you will always keep with you)
--Lightweight ”undercover’ type wallet for:
Driver’s license (if you may be driving)
Copy of medical insurance card
Emergency med/evac. Ins. Card (optional)
Emergency home/Haiti contacts
Spending money (small bills best)
Credit Card (optional – most places in Haiti do not accept credit cards, with the exception of some beach resorts)
--5+ changes of clothes (no tight clothing, no camouflage)
Men: shorts/pants (preferably not denim), CASUAL T-SHIRTS (NO TANK TOPS)
For church: pants, dress shirt
Women: skirts or dresses. Must be knee-length, no bare shoulders, no low-cut
For church: nice skirt/dress, sandals
--Underwear & socks
--Something to sleep in (cool & modest)
--Lightweight sweater/jacket (for flights)
--Modest swimsuit (one-piece or tankini)
--Walking shoes (might be hiking)
--Flip-flops/sandals for shower
--Toiletry items in sample sizes. ONLY bring quantities you will need for 2 weeks, such as:
Shampoo & conditioner
Hand & body lotion
Razor (non-electric), shaving cream
Personal hygiene items for women
--1 to 2 good flashlights, with extra batteries (a mini-light can be very helpful to keep on your bkpk)
--waterbottle with sealable spout
--Insect repellant (recommend 20-50% DEET incontrolled release formula)
--Glasses/contacts & supplies
--Swimming goggles (nice for Caribbean swim!)
--Anti-bacterial wipes (put an estimated day’s need in individual ziplock baggies)
--TP (packaged the same as wipes)
--Prescription meds in original containers
--Personal meds such as: pain meds, tums, Pepto-Bismol tablets, Imodium, cold or allergy meds, antibact. ointment, hydrocortisone cream, sleeping aid, bandaids, Multivitamin, Zinc, Airborne, etc.
--ace bandage or braces you would need for sports
--1 lightweight towel and washcloth
--Camera with extra film and batteries
--lightweight rain poncho
--Journal and pens
--Bible if wanted
--Notes for your team devotional
--Small sewing kit with safety pins
--Non-perishable non-meltable snacks
--Small pillow for travel (optional)
--A couple large, heavy-duty garbage bags
--Photo of your family to share with Haitian friends
--A couple plastic bags to put damp clothes in to put your luggage in, in case of rain
--Heavy hiking boots
--curling irons or blow dryers
--Expensive clothing, jewelry, or valuables
Keep in mind that you are not limited to these items! Should your baggage space permit, you are encouraged to bring anything you think will enhance your mission and your abilities to serve. Also, if you bring extra of anything-snacks, toilet paper, clothes, etc.- you are SURE to be a lot of (forgetful) people's best friend!!! HAHA!
Your mission trip to Haiti will test your organizational skills on a daily basis. We keep our backpacks on us at all times to keep these necessities close. You may play a few hundred games of backpack Tetris but we promise that you will surprise yourself with all that you can fit!
Our first member to be featured is Ashli Holland! Ashli lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and got involved with Flourish Collective through her friend, Hannah (Hi guys, that's me!). As part of the support staff, this was Ashli's first mission or volunteer trip of any kind. Ashli is such a delight to be around! Her jokes and dance moves are sure to keep you smiling and her warm heart can be felt the moment you get to talking with her. Ashli's passion for people radiated from her the entire trip! In fact, she says that the people were her favorite part about the trip, both the Haitians and the members of her team. Although Ashli is an incredibly inspiring person herself, she says that the Haitians' outlook on life inspired HER! "How they have absolutely nothing but still find reasons to smile, to laugh and to give. They love and hold on to hope even in the worst of situations. The way they look at life inspires me, it makes me appreciate the things I have, it showed me that life isn't about what you have in materialistic goods, but rather the love you have in your heart and the hope you keep in your mind." Well the love that Ashli has in her heart was overflowing in Haiti as she volunteered.
Not only was Ashli a very helpful team member within the clinics, but she has shared a special experience in which she helped an entire Haitian family survive. Check out what Ashli says about her awesome deed-of-the-day at our second clinic!
"While we were setting up the clinic the local people started to show up, and all types of people. Mostly people there to get treatment at the clinic, then local kids hanging around (most just begging for money). So when all the kids were just bothering all us with the "Give me one dollar" there was a young boy over sitting by where the people walk up the hill with a basket full up bread, cookies and some other stuff. I was very intrigued by the boy as I watched him sit there for a couple of hours not bothering any of us or getting in the way with anything, he just sat there and minded his own business and running his business. I was very moved and infatuated with the fact that the boy never once begged for money but he worked hard to sell his goods. I was so moved that I had about 40 Gourdes (Haitian money) so I told Jean (a good friend of ours who helps get us around Haiti safely and also helps us translate from time to time.) that I wanted to give it all to him. So Jean took me over and I bought about 10 packets of cookies. The conversion break down is 1 good equals about .15 cents USD. He was happy I bought some stuff and he continued to work to make money for his family. I still was so moved by his entrepreneurial spirit and drive I told Jean that I wanted to give him $20 USD which is equivalent to about 1378.11 Haitian Gourdes. I learned that the business wasn't even his but his sisters and he was trying to help her and the family so he was working it for them. I wanted him to fill up her basket to sell as well as start his own business. 1 dollar a day feeds a whole family so his hard work paid off and I hope that moment sticks with him and he remembers hard work will always pay off! Ill never forget his smile and the smile of his family!"
Haiti can be a tough experience. There are a lot of things that will make you feel uncomfortable or out of your element. But Ashli has a natural ability to enjoy the moment that she is in and help other people enjoy that moment with her. Watching Ashli interact with the Haitian people makes you forget about all the bad for just a minute and really take in all the good that the world has to offer. We hope that Ashli has inspired you as much as she inspired us every day of the mission and each day since.
Looking for some advice and words of wisdom for your first mission? Ashli has a tip! "Come with an open mind and heart....Come with the willingness to learn, because as much as I thought I was helping the Haitian people, they surely helped me more in all they taught me."