Lifestyle & Human Interest

Nurses Trapped in Haiti So Desperate To Return Home They Start GoFundMe


Most of us in the western world take our safety and security for granted. We know that the power will stay on and our water will continue to run.

We expect the roads to stay clear and the grocer’s shelves to remained stocked. Our outrages center on some relatively small bit of political news or perhaps something someone said on Twitter.

However, life isn’t that way for people in many countries. In fact, the only guarantee many of them have is that their society won’t be stable.

Think about what’s going on in Haiti right now. According to The New York Times, protests have erupted over the administration of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.

With the economy failing and corruption charges flying right and left, people have become fed up with Moïse and want him to leave. Unfortunately, that desire has expressed itself in bloody riots.

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Protesters have blocked roads with burning debris and clashed with police, violent confrontations that have resulted in deaths. In fact, the civil unrest has grown so bad that the United States is urging people to stay away and Canada has simply stated, “Avoid all travel to Haiti due to civil unrest throughout the country.”

There’s just one problem: What about the travelers who are already there? That’s exactly the case a group of Canadian nurses found themselves in.

According to CNN, eight nurses — Lauren Davey, Katherine Fitzo’Niel, Tracy Hotta, Kirsten Nieminen, Marie Nieminen, Charline Ramgotra, Lisa Sturdy and Aundrea Trevors — are ministering in a Christian compound and were told not to leave. Barricades blocking the route to the airport made safe travel an impossibility.

The group tried to contact the Canadian embassy in Haiti, but no one answered their calls — even after they got forwarded to Ottawa, Canada’s capital. So instead of wringing their hands and hoping for the best, the nurses decided to take action.

WALB reported that, after learning Air Canada would have an evacuation flight on Feb. 18, they hoped to make it to the airport by the day prior.

“We can get people to come in and we can still provide health care for the men and the feeding program. School has been shut; we do have a school on the compound. We are safe here, but they will not let us go outside the compound,” Hotta said to WALB.

So the nurses started a GoFundMe campaign to hire a private helicopter.

“We are on a compound that has a church, school, clinic, and feeding program and we came to help the community of Grand Goave,” they wrote. “Currently, we are stranded here because we are about an hour away from Port-au-Prince where the violent protest is and they have set up barriers on the roads to get to the airports. The airport is in Port-au-Prince.

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“It is unlikely we will pass those barriers without being harmed. If we made it to Port-au-Prince they can keep up hostage. The people of Haiti are getting very desperate and will do anything to get a change in their government and president.”

“We are currently rationing everything; food, water, essentials until we can get out of here. We are expecting to run out of cell service soon as they run on fuel which we cannot get because during the riots the gas stations have been burned down…”

“Please support us in the cost of the helicopter and help us escape.” And that was exactly what people did.

Within the space of two days, the campaign drew in almost $20,000. The nurses had been asking for $9,000, and promised on their GoFundMe page to donate all excess money in full to Hope Grows Haiti.

“Thank you so much to everyone who donated and kept us in their thoughts and prayers. We are all so grateful to you,” the team said in an update on their fundraising page. “Any excess funds will go to go towards Hope Grows to feed, educate and clothe the community of Grande Goave, Haiti.”

Though the nurses expect to make it home safely today, two team members with Hope Grows Haiti, the nonprofit that had worked with the nurses, have decided to stay despite the unrest.

“We trust our team of nurses will get out tomorrow but Gord and I have decided to remain at the mission with our Haitian team for a while,” a woman named Heather wrote on the group’s Facebook page.

Commenters were wowed by their commitment with one writing, “We are praying for you and for your Haitian community. You are the hands and feet of Jesus and incredible role models for us all.”

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
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