The purpose of the Awareness Trip Program is :

→ To raise awareness in our communities of the situation in Haiti, Dominican Republic and other developing countries

→ To educate and raise the awareness of the richness of life in the developing world

→ To demonstrate our support for the people in developing countries.

HOW TO GO ON A TRIP

Rayjon Awareness trips are available to adults as well as students, and generally take place each year to the Dominican Republic and Haiti during the High School March Break week. To become involved, you should attend the Trip Information session, which occurs each October. Email  [email protected] for more information. The Information Meeting is the first step for anyone who is interested. Trip preparation meetings are an integral component of the Awareness Trip program. Generally 4 – 5 meetings are held in the weeks leading up to the trip departure.

Adults and students aged at least 16 for a Dominican Republic Trip, and 17and over for a Haiti trip are considered for Awareness trips. No commitment is required in order to attend the information meeting. The participant is responsible for the cost of the trip. If you choose to take part in either the Haiti or Dominican Republic trip, a down payment is required two weeks after the information meeting at an “interview session”. Before a candidate’s application is accepted, he/she must have a personal interview with a trip leader, during which guidelines and rules will be explained. This will ensure that the candidate fully understands the commitment he/she is making. The candidate will sign the Awareness Trip interview form to confirm this.

Awareness trips can be a life-altering experience. If you would like to talk to someone who has taken an Awareness Trip and do not know anyone who has done so, please email your request to [email protected] to be connected with a previous trip participant.

TRIP EXPERIENCE

Destinations for awareness trips are normally Haiti or Dominican Republic. Both countries are found on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

Duration of awareness trips is generally 7-10 days.

First time travelers are encouraged to visit the Dominican Republic since the experience in this country is less demanding than Haiti. Regardless of the country visited, the experience is likely to be one of the most challenging and meaningful of your life.

The group consists of an experienced leader, a local guide and up to 20 travelers to Dominican Republic and a smaller group to Haiti

Activities include visits to a variety of communities (schools, hospitals, community groups etc.). At each location, ample opportunities exist for participants to interact with members of the local community.

Accommodation, usually at residential schools or guest houses, is simple with very basic amenities, but safe. Great care is taken to ensure the Safety and Health of participants. Appropriate  medical preparations are recommended and high quality food and water is provided. Half a day is usually scheduled for Rest and Relaxation.

A period of Reflection and Discussion is scheduled each evening in order to review the experiences and insights gathered from the day’s events.

Follow Up

The Trip experience continues through attendance at follow up meetings, in particular a reunion scheduled approximately one month after the trip. The reunion provides an opportunity to revisit significant events of the trip, explore future opportunities and make plans for any continued involvement. This event is considered an essential part of the Awareness Trip Program and is included in the trip cost.

Participants & Expectations

Participants

Participants (at least 17 years old for Haiti and 16 years for the Dominican Republic) represent a wide range of ages, occupations and interests. Participants come from “many walks of life”, all sharing a curiosity about life in a developing country with a desire to personally contribute in some meaningful way to improving the quality of life within these countries.

Participants are individuals who are prepared, with appropriate guidance, to take full responsibility for their own personal security and health and to contribute to the security, health and well-being of fellow group members.

Expectations

Participants must be physically fit since the days are long and tiring. To ensure a meaningful and satisfying experience for the group each participant is expected to commit to:

  1. Participate in all pre-trip preparations and follow up activities.
  2. Understand, accept and adhere to the RAYJON Code of Conduct 

Participation in pre-trip planning and information meetings is mandatory. If attendance at all the meetings is not possible because of other commitments, the candidate should consider postponement to a later trip. During the trip, each participant will be assigned a specific duty to perform and will be expected to help generally in other ways, in order for the trip to run smoothly. These assignments must be undertaken both willingly and seriously.

COST & FUNDING

The total cost of each trip is covered by the travelling group. Participants are individually responsible for raising funds to cover the cost of their trip. Fundraising is encouraged!

Costs are estimated ahead of the trip and presented to potential travelers as a single cost.

The cost includes:

  • transportation from Sarnia
  • food
  • accommodation
  • transportation during the trip
  • participation in a post trip reunion
  • a $50.00 non-refundable administrative fee

The trip fee does not include any medical preparation costs for individuals, cancellation or out of country travel insurance.

RAYJON provides instruction for

  • pre-trip medical preparation
  • ideas for fund raising for individuals seeking financial support

A receipt for most of the costs will be issued for tax refund as a charitable expense.

CODE OF CONDUCT

To ensure a meaningful and satisfying experience, each participant is expected to commit to an established program for trip presentation and follow up, and to abide by RAYJON’s Code of Conduct during the trip. Adherence to the Code of Conduct will minimize risks to personal safety, health, and security, honour and respect the local customs and maintain Rayjon’s reputation both at home and abroad.

Students who are interested in going on a trip should ensure that their parents/guardians fully understand RAYJON’s Code of Conduct. To prevent any misunderstandings in the trip guidelines and rules, parents/guardians are encouraged to take part in the pre-trip preparations.

Alcohol is not part of an Awareness Trip. Smokers must be considerate to the non-smoking participants and to the people of the host countries, and if possible, should be restricted to the hotel / guest houses.

For safety’s sake, participants or small groups will not be free to wander around alone.

Rayjon trip participants create lifelong memories. Here’s what some of them have to say about their experience: 

“I look at what I have, though some might not think it’s much, and I think of what I saw. WOW! How we’re blessed.

– Trudy Boers

“This experience provided me an opportunity to examine and evaluate my priorities. It started a growth process that I hope will never end.”

– Connor McDonough

“How much humility these people must have; they have so little, still, they seem to be so thankful for so much. I came to discover my own spiritual poverty.”

– Scott Burns

“My one week in Haiti taught me more about human dignity than anything else I have ever experienced. For anyone choosing to go next year, they will find as I did, that they will receive much more from the Haitians than we could ever hope to give them.”

– Elly Vukobratic

For a more in-depth view of experiencing Haiti, we recommend you read Kurtis’ Haiti reflection piece March 2018