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Southern Alberta missionary group rescued by helicopter in Haiti

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WATCH (Feb. 16): The emergency evacuation of southern Alberta missionaries once stranded in Haiti is underway. As Jill Croteau reports, families desperate to be reunited with their loved ones are anxiously awaiting their arrival – Feb 16, 2019

After days of anxious waiting, a Calgary family is now relieved to know some of their family members are returning home.

Marc and Lisa Honorat, along with their 12-year-old daughter Miesha, were doing missionary work in Haiti for the organization they created, Haiti Arise.

READ MORE: Peterborough couple rationing supplies at Hope Grows Haiti charity amid civil unrest

Due to escalating civil unrest in that country, the 24-member team was told it needed to get out; there was an emergency evacuation. The group paid close to $7,000 to hire helicopters to fly them out of the region.

“This is Haiti, things are at unrest continually. How they explode and when, we don’t know, so we take every precaution we can,” Haiti Arise spokesperson James Roberts said.

“When you’re working in the third world, there’s always that risk and our job is to mitigate it as much as possible.”

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WATCH: James Roberts with Haiti Arise joins Global Calgary to talk about the political unrest in Haiti that is forcing the evacuation of missionaries, some of whom are from Alberta.

Click to play video 'Alberta missionaries to be rescued from Haiti' Alberta missionaries to be rescued from Haiti
Alberta missionaries to be rescued from Haiti – Feb 16, 2019

The group has built schools and medical clinics for the Haitians over the years and are relieved but somewhat reluctant to temporarily leave the work behind.

“They were happy to be down there but things got tense and started to fall apart,” Roberts said. “It’s really good we can safely get them where they need to be.”

Honorat children making ‘Welcome home’ sign for their mom. Jill Croteau

For the Honorats’ children, they are ecstatic their mother and sister will be coming home, hopefully, on Sunday.

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“I was about to cry,” nine-year-old Ariana said.

“I was worried and scared,” 10-year-old Jasmine added.

READ MORE: Canadian travel alert for Haiti raised as violent protests rage on

The youngest, six-year-old Austin, can hardly wait for their return.

“I’m so excited to see Mommy! Happy, happy, happy, happy!” Austin said.

Their father, Marc, is staying behind to continue to help support the Haitian people.

“I’m a little sad but I know he’s helping people. I think it’s amazing and brings miracle for people,” Jasmine said.

Missionaries arrived at the Calgary International Airport on Sunday after volunteering in Haiti. Global News

Landing in Calgary

Families arrived at the Calgary International Airport on Sunday.

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“Being responsible for a group of 26 people made a different dynamic,” said Lisa. “It was an emotional roller coaster. For many, it was the first time out of the country, so to be in a situation like this is very unnerving.”

On Thursday, Global Affairs Canada issued an advisory warning against all travel to the country.

“The Canadian embassy was helpful only to advise us to stay put but we didn’t receive any more help than that,” Lisa said Sunday. “I would hope the Canadian government would take notice and get the rest of Canadians citizens still trapped there home to their families. Many people are beside themselves back home here.”

READ MORE: Violent protests in Haiti leave nurses and physician from Maritimes stranded

Miesha left Haiti with a sense of reluctance.

“I was sad to leave,” she said. “I have family and friends and it was different because I had never been in the situation before.”

WATCH (Feb. 17): It was an emotional reunion at the Calgary International Airport Sunday afternoon. Families anxiously awaited the overdue arrivals of their loved ones after an emergency evacuation in Haiti. Jill Croteau reports.

Click to play video 'Albertans stranded by Haitian protests relieved to arrive in Calgary' Albertans stranded by Haitian protests relieved to arrive in Calgary
Albertans stranded by Haitian protests relieved to arrive in Calgary – Feb 17, 2019

For missionary Ayva Kauffman, the feeling was a lot different when they knew they couldn’t leave, she said.

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“It feels great to be home,” she said. “I missed being here a lot more than I thought I would.”

Missionary Kevin Good said Haitians are in a tough political situation.

“We were safe in a compound and going to be running out of food and the embassy said, ‘Stay where you are and wait it out.’ So we took matters into our own hands.”​

WATCH (Feb. 15): A group of missionaries from southern Alberta are stranded in Haiti amid violent protests in the streets. Adam MacVicar reports. 

Click to play video 'Alberta-based missionary group fleeing Haiti as violence engulfs Caribbean republic' Alberta-based missionary group fleeing Haiti as violence engulfs Caribbean republic
Alberta-based missionary group fleeing Haiti as violence engulfs Caribbean republic – Feb 15, 2019