A New Brunswick-born nurse and other health-care professionals from the Maritimes have made it to the airport after spending the day escaping violent protests in Haiti.
“They were attacked this morning. They weren’t hit, but their car was jumped on,” said Richard Blaquiere of his daughter, Rachel Blaquiere.
Blaquiere was part of a small group of health-care professionals who traveled to Haiti to help those in need of basic health-care services.
She has been to the Caribbean country several times without any issues and praises the experience as rewarding and critically needed for Haitians who have little access to basic needs.
“It’s a beautiful spot, the people are beautiful. We love helping out wherever we can. We just chose a bad time unfortunately to come,” said Blaquiere.
Widespread violent protests erupted during her latest stay in Haiti, leaving her and her team of medical professionals stranded in the southern part of the country.
“People are being asked for money when they get up to roadblocks. Some people are being taken for ransom. There’s just a lot of violence,” she said.
On Friday, the team attempted to travel to Port-au-Prince to make it to the airport.
Blaquiere was in contact with her father throughout the ordeal. She informed him that they ran into several blockades along the way where they had to pay money in order to pass.
On the final stretch, the team saw that the only vehicles getting through the final blockades with any success were ambulances.
So, they decided their best bet was to use one themselves.
“They hired an ambulance. They paid $150 to get a fake ambulance and they pretended that they were ambulance workers. Somebody was absolutely brilliant enough to look out and say, ambulances seem to be getting through, why don’t we get an ambulance? And they did!” Richard Blaquiere said.
According to the federal government of Canada, more than 100 Canadians are trapped in Haiti. Global Affairs Canada has advised against all travel to the country.
A retired orthopedic surgeon from Halifax, who has traveled to Haiti several times to provide relief work, says he can sympathize with how quickly situations can turn.
“The advice from the Canadian consulate was always front of mind because if they detected that there was a problem, you’d try and pre-empt it by not going. Of course, once you get there and something like that happens then all bets are off. It becomes difficult to try and organize anything, even transportation, food, water,” said Dr. David Amirault.
While a timeline for how long the violent uprising will continue, for now, Blaquiere says he can breathe a sigh of relief.
“I’m just totally, completely, elated,” Blaquiere said.