Southern Alberta missionary group rescued by helicopter in Haiti
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
For the Honorats’ children, they are ecstatic their mother and sister will be coming home, hopefully, on Sunday.
“I was about to cry,” nine-year-old Ariana said.
“I was worried and scared,” 10-year-old Jasmine added.
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.
Landing in Calgary
Families arrived at the Calgary International Airport on Sunday.
“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.”
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.
For missionary Ayva Kauffman, the feeling was a lot different when they knew they couldn’t leave, she said.
“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.
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