The Top 12 Ways To Avoid Burnout In Haiti (For Long-Term Volunteers)

(Adapted from Still Harbor’s “Simple Wellness Tips and Practices”)

In close cooperation with Still Harbor in Boston, we have created this resource for long-term Haiti volunteers and missionaries. Still Harbor partners with individuals and organizations working to make change around the world. Its founders include previous staff and a current board member of Partners In Health. Thank you to Perry Doughtery and the Still Harbor team for your generosity and wisdom!
(Last updated April 2015)

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Getting around in Port au Prince

Workout Apps
There are a number of good, free workout apps that will guide you through an entire routine and give you cues when to switch from one exercise to the next. “Nike+ Training” is one solid option. It’s available in the iTunes store and also the Android store. Once you’ve downloaded the app you don’t even need a live internet connection to be able to do a workout.

Exercise bands
Resistance bands are a great way to do a wide range of exercises in a limited space. They’re also great for stretching. Consider an option like Rubberbanditz (available on which was created by a former Peace Corps volunteer who wanted to be able to exercise anywhere.

Pools you can use in Port au Prince (just bring a suit and towel!):

Hotel Oloffson – pool use is free with any food order
Address: Ave Christophe #60, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Phone: 509-3810-4000

Habitation Hatt – $8 for pool use
Address: Airport Road – Entree A & B Hatt II, Port Au Prince, Haiti
Phone: +509-3452-9480, +509-2940-0135

Visa Lodge – $10 for pool use
Address: Route des Nîmes, Port-au-Prince, HAITI
Phone: +509-2813-0777, +509-2812-2814, 509-2812-2815

Hotel Montana – pool use is “free” with the an expected $25 food order (this minimum is not always enforced)
Address: RUE FRANK CARDOZO , 6119, Petionville, PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI
Phone: +509-2940-0584, +509-3880-6610

Hotel Karibe – $30 for pool use but the full amount is credited to you for any food and drinks up to $30
Address: Juvenat 7, Port -au-Prince, Petionville, Haiti
Phone: +509-2812-7000, 1-800-615-6377, 1-305-677-2017

Hikes in Port au Prince

Day beach trips
If you can get a day off and you have access to a vehicle, you can make it to any one of these beaches in about 90 minutes from PaP. They all have their pros and cons. Wahoo is perhaps the most popular. Indigo is often said to have a nicer sandy beach. Kaliko is more affordable but has a rocky beach. Moulin Sur Mer is more expensive. Entrance per person varies from $15-$40 for the day (often with lunch included in that price).

Club Indigo

Wahoo Beach

Kaliko Beach

Moulin Sur Mer

Day Hike
Wynne Farm and Eco Reserve
The Wynne Farm is a great hike in Kenscoff. This is a family-friendly option directly south of Petionville up Route Kenscoff. Get in touch with Jane Wynne and come ready for a rejuvenating time on the farm and reserve.

Longer Hike
An overnight hike from Furcy (south of Petionville) to Jacmel is 26+ miles of very challenging but very rewarding trails and roads. Glowing endorsements have come from everyone who’s made this trek. The Salvant family (long-term missionaries and friends of HaitiHub) have written a wonderfully detailed account of the hike including comprehensive recommendations for people preparing to make a go of it.
Salvant Blog:
Trail Map:
To make reservations at Kay Winnie for the overnight, contact or

Best restaurants in Port au Prince

Awesome, family-friendly board games and card games:
Saboteur (A perfect hybrid between party game and strategy game. All players together are trying to dig towards a treasure but there are saboteurs in the group and you don’t know who they are! This game is entirely card based – about the size of 2 decks of normal playing cards)

Banagrams (A fast, fun, word game. Like a scrabble race without the board. All the letter tiles for the whole game fit into one small pouch.)

Apples to Apples (A modern classic. It’s hard to explain this one but you’ll be amazed at how simple word associations and popular culture can combine for such a fun time. One medium box of cards.)

Monopoly Deal (If Monopoly turned into a card game, took only 20 minutes to play, and were actually fun… it would be Monopoly Deal! About the size of 2 decks of normal playing cards.)

Settlers of Catan (Another modern classic. This board game involves a fair amount of setup and A LOT of rules, but once you get going, it’s an addictive and wonderfully balanced strategy game. A traditional-sized board game with a lot of small pieces, just FYI.)

Five Crowns (A number-based card game. Arrange sets and series to be the first to play all your cards. Easy to learn and fun for a wide range of ages. About the size of 2 decks of normal playing cards.)

Go to the Clay Café inside the Papillon Store and have one of their famous real fruit smoothies. Iced coffees, smoothies, and other goodies are available at this fun, innovative Delmas 75 spot.
#16 Rue Cassagnoll Prolongee off of Delmas 75 in Port Au Prince

Go to the UN Logistics Base for a drink, snack, or meal
The UN Log base on Blvd. Toussaint Louverture right next to the PaP airport houses two small restaurants: The Deck Grill and Haiku Sushi Bar which are open to the public. Bring ID to enter the base. It’s cheap enough to make a weekly habit and if you live in PaP, odds are you pass the airport often enough.

Tour Parc Canne-a-Sucre (the sugarcane park) in Tabarre
Just down the road from the US Embassy, the sugarcane park is a popular, outdoor music venue that’s
also open to the public when events are not happening. Walk the grounds and see old plantation
equipment including a restored train. A menu of snacks and drinks are available in addition to buffet options.

Let your kids burn some energy at O Cases
O Cases is an innovative Petionville restaurant concept. Three huts serve affordable chicken, sub
sandwiches, and ice cream. The layout is so family friendly that on weekends they set up a bounce
house that is ALWAYS a hit with kids.

Escape the heat at the Baptist Mission
The Baptist Mission above Petionville (take Route Kenscoff south out of Petionville) has a large gift shop and courtyard-style restaurant offering hot dogs, hamburgers, and ice cream. A good stop even for larger groups. And the best part is that the Mission is usually 10+ degrees cooler than the rest of Port au Prince below!

Enjoy the view and a snack at Observatoire
The Observatoire restaurant just above Petionville (along Route Kenscoff before the hard turn to the South towards Baptist Mission) overlooks Port au Prince below. The view is breathtaking both during the day and at night. Average $15 for a full meal and a drink. Much less for just a snack.

Potlucks with friends or fellow volunteers are always good. Themes can add to the fun.

Port au Prince vacation

Gratitude journal
This is a great way to record and recognize the things you are thankful for. Get a simple journal, spiral notebook, or moleskin. Every night, write the date and a few things that made you feel grateful during the day.

Thank-You Blogs
There are some very clever “thank-you-based” blogs that can inspire you and get your gratitude streak going. Check out: Another wonderful blog is “Letters of Note” which presents written correspondences from a range of sources and time periods. There is an entire section devoted to thank-you letters.

Sending thank-you notes to the people in your life keeps you connected to loved ones and also helps you remember the people who have been a blessing to you. E-cards are often the most practical way of doing this from Haiti. Hallmark has a wide range of E-cards. For a modest annual fee, you can send as many of Hallmark’s premium e-cards as you want.

Best beaches in Port au Prince

Yoga is great for flexibility and heart health. There are many free apps that guide you through a yoga workout. “Simply Yoga FREE” is an excellent option. Available at the iTunes App Store and Android App Store.

Midday naps!
Don’t feel guilty taking them. A well-timed power nap can turn your whole day around!

Standup Desk
More and more studies are coming out about the adverse health effects of sitting for a long time. If some days put you in front of your computer for a long time, consider making a stand-up desk on the cheap. Here’s one good article with some very useful ideas and links:

Churches in Port au Prince

Daily devotionals
A daily prayer practice is so important. has compiled several great daily devotionals from C.S. Lewis to the NIV. Just bookmark the devotional of your choice and it will update automatically every day.

The rosary has been a pillar of Catholic spiritual practice for centuries. If you haven’t prayed the rosary since you were in Sunday school, maybe now is the time and Haiti is the place for it again.

Prayer partner
Ask a friend, colleague, or fellow volunteer to be a prayer partner. This can be set up in any number of ways. Meet together once a day to pray. Share prayer intentions and remember to pray for one another. Read a book on spirituality together and discuss it on a schedule. Or simply get a friend to ask you weekly “How’s your prayer life?”

Contemplative prayer
1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within. It’s a good idea to choose this word from scripture.
2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly, and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
3. When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.

If you don’t pray
The other branches of contemplative practice are many and rich!

Things to see in Port au Prince

Give some compliments in Creole!
“I like your _______.” = M renmen ______ ou.
Here are some options to fill in the blank: rad = dress, chapo = hat, cheve = hair
For example: “I like your hat!” = M renmen chapo ou!

Reach out to a fellow volunteer or expat
Often our organization’s mission can cause us to overlook the ways our fellow volunteers and other expats are struggling. A simple gesture can go a long way. A Sprite on a particularly hot day. An offer to do someone’s dishes. Asking about family or friends outside of Haiti.

Ask someone what concerns/intentions of theirs you can pray for.This is a powerful way to minister to the people around you and also to get to know people better.

The best Haitian Food in Port au Prince

Great things to ask for help with:
Kreyol (Ask for pronunciation pointers, or help with expressions, or for the most fun – ask to hear some new Creole proverbs!)

Learning to cook a new recipe (ask a Haitian colleague to teach you how to make pikliz! It’s a great, easy starter on Haitian cuisine.)

Sewing (replace a button, hem pants, fix a small tear…)

Learning to drive stick shift (You should still probably save the driving for people who have more experience behind the wheel in Haiti, but a back road or field is a great place for someone to teach you how to drive stick.)

Be vulnerable
Brene Brown is a powerful voice for being authentic and also allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Check out her well-loved TED Talk.

Move your to-do list
Identify the 3 things that have been stuck on your to-do list the longest. For each of these things, think of 1 or 2 people who could help you move it forward. Ask them!

Family friendly things to do in Port au Prince

Watch a movie on your laptop. (an old favorite or something you swap with a friend)

Start a small garden and work in it every day. Tomatoes, peppers, and herbs are all great to start in Haiti.

Skype with a friend.

Read fun stuff – fiction or magazines. If even Paul Farmer reads the occasional People Magazine (or “Journal of Popular Studies” as he calls it in Mountains Beyond Mountains), then hey…

Get into a neighborhood soccer game.

Cook a great meal.

Coffee shop in Port au Prince

Seriously – you should smile! It’s not new age wishful thinking. Don’t believe it? Check out this Forbes article:

While we’re at it, see what the Wall Street Journal has to say about maintaining good posture:

Write about what you are most proud of every week. It’s important to celebrate the small wins so that the setbacks don’t overwhelm us. Take the time to look back at the week and remember what you did well. Was it solving a logistics issue? Was it being there for a friend? Was it helping to settle a dispute? You done good!! Keep track of it!

Best live music in Port au Prince

Play an instrument – the ukulele is very small and is one of the easiest stringed instruments to learn! Or pick up a guitar if someone in your organization has one. The harmonica is also extremely portable and satisfying to play.

Write poetry. Even if you’ve never done it before, it’s more accessible than you might imagine. Modern haiku poetry, for example, doesn’t follow any strict rules about length. 2 examples:

the puddle:

my dead brother…
hearing his laugh
in my laughter

Write a novel. For a community that can help keep you motivated, check out National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short).

Sketch, draw, whittle, carve. Heck, grow a bonsai tree!

What to do in Port au Prince

Start a book group. You only need 2 or 3 people to start and you can make your reading list very relevant to the experiences you are having.

Create a language exchange (Creole for English, Spanish for Creole, English for Spanish, etc…) Find someone who speaks the language you want to practice and who wants to practice a language that you already speak. Spend 15 minutes conversing in one language and then switch for the last 15 minutes.

Join a choir if you worship somewhere that has one. As it’s commonly said, singing is praying twice! And the shared activity is a wonderful way to build community.

Want to see more resources like this? Tell us what you need! Make your voice heard via this short survey! Click here.

Speak Haitian Creole now!