A Peterborough couple say they’re rationing supplies at their charity in Haiti as civil unrest rises on the island nation.
Heather and Gord Rodin initially launched Hope Grows Haiti in 2006 as a charity to sponsor a school in the Grand Goâve region on the island’s west coast. The charity eventually expanded with five acres of land featuring a compound, medical clinic and school programs to provide support to residents (in particular children) following a devastating earthquake in 2010.
In a phone interview with CHEX News on Friday morning, Heather said they’ve remained inside their compound the past few days since violent protests broke out last week in Port-au-Prince, approximately 65 kilometres east of their charity.
She says roads in and out of the region are either blocked or closed.
“The county has been absolutely closed to any movement about whatsoever,” Heather said. “… the villagers are still able to come in and run our feeding programs but we probably have double the people here now because of the shutdowns of the roads. No one is able to get out.”
The violent protests prompted Global Affairs on Friday to tell Canadians to avoid travel to the country. Eight Canadian nurses – who are working at the compound – are currently unable to leave the country as road access to the airport in Port-au-Prince is blocked.
Rodin said the charity may try to access a helicopter to help the nurses leave the island. They might consider a GoFundMe page to help cover the rental costs, Rodin said.
“We’re doing what we can to help them get out – there’s a bit of an urgency to get them home,” she said, noting some didn’t bring enough personal items such as medications for an extended stay.
Rodin and her husband — who arrived to Haiti for a visit at the start of the month — said the country “standstill” is forcing them to ration food, water, medical supplies and fuel at the secure compound, which includes eight other nurses and two dozen staff.
“We are trying to ration as much as possible but at the same time we know everyone needs to eat, so we are trying to stretch our food,” she said.
“Our medical clinic is still running at full capacity treating up to 40 people a day.”
Rodin says she and her husband are not making any plans to leave Haiti until their scheduled mid-March departure. Rodin said the Canadian embassy is currently closed but they have had intermittent communication with officials in Ottawa.
“We will stay as long as we feel we are able to — or until our team or the (Canadian) government says we should leave,” she said.
Rodin says the travel advisory will impact a planned visit next week by Peterborough paramedics who were offering their services and supplies.
And despite a warning of possible violence escalating in their region, Rodin simply wants to continue to focus on her humanitarian work.
“We’re doing fine – it’s beautiful here and we can just concentrate on the programs we are running,” she said. “It’s been a difficult go for this country and we feel for the Haitian people.
They’ve had a lot to deal with and we’re doing our best to do what we can do in our little corner of the world but I know there are tremendous needs in this country – and that is our wish for Haiti.”
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