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Local nurses waiting on helicopter to help them escape unrest in Haiti

KAWARTHA LAKES-A group of eight nurses working with Hope Grows Haiti charity are waiting on a helicopter to take them to the Port-au-Prince Airport and back home to Canada after becoming trapped during unrest in the country.

“They’re all safe on their compound but the news of the quickly escalating violence has made Gord and Heather decide to come home this week if they are able to.” Craig Foster, a representative for Hope Grows told Kawartha 411 this morning. He says some of the nurses are from Peterborough area, Toronto and as far away as Nova Scotia.

Hope Grows Haiti was founded in 2006 by Peterborough residents Gord and Heather Rodin. The charity started with a small feeding program and sponsoring a school in the Grand Goave mountain regions. In 2013, the charity purchased five acres of land in the  poor and tiny village of Petit Paradis, across the river from the larger city of Grand Goave. Eventually the compound expanded to include a security wall, guest and team lodge, storage depots, church, a small home, medical clinic and a school, all to fulfill their mission to feed, clothe, house and educate the poor and abandoned children of Grand Goave.
Teams of volunteers raise their own money throughout the year in order to travel to the country to provide medical care and assistance through Hope Grows Haiti.
The nurses became trapped in the charity’s compound after violence in the country escalated recently. “We’re ready. Come get us, Mr. Helicopter Pilot. It’s time to go home!”  Tracey Hotta, an RN trapped in the compound said on Facebook. “It has been an emotional roller coaster but this trip to Haiti has strengthened our faith and sense of family. We thank you for taking care of us and we look forward to our return next year. Praying for peace in this beautiful country.”

 

Heather Rodin sounded the alarm on February 8th on Facebook saying “Personal medications are running out which is also a concern. We are rationing food, water, and fuel for the generator, as we don’t know when we’ll be able to find more.There is also the threat of further escalation of violence in our area with the latest word from the Haitian government. The need to evacuate before all communication is lost and food and water is gone, is imperative.”

While it’s unclear how close the unrest is to the compound but it’s been unsafe to make their way to the airport. “I don’t know of any violence directly near their compound .. but there are barricades on the main highway which is just a few minutes from their compound.” Craig Foster told Kawartha 411.

The Canadian Embassy closed last week but briefly reopened today. A friend of one of the nurses started a GoFundMe campaign to rent a helicopter to get them to the airport. The campaign was started on Friday with a goal of raising $9,000 and quickly surpassed that.

The helicopter arrived late Monday afternoon and the nurses were safely transported to the airport for a flight home.

 

Founders Heather and Gord Rodin had hoped to remain in the compound but announced today they would be coming home as well. “Circumstances for Gord and I have changed quickly, and with news of escalating trouble and mass violence to come we have been strongly encouraged to leave as well. Realizing our presence here could put our Haitian team in danger, we have decided to go home this week if possible. We are sad to go, but know this is better for all.” Heather says.

 

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Pamela Vanmeer
Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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