Heather and Gord Rodin, the founders of Hope Grows Haiti charity, say they’re sad to leave, “but know this is better for all.”
In a post on the charity’s Facebook page, the Peterborough, Ont., couple are citing the escalating trouble and mass violence in the country as the reasons for them electing to leave this week. They were planning on staying until mid-March.
“Today our nurses are going home,” said Heather Rodin in the post. “We are so excited for them. But circumstances for Gord and I have changed quickly.”
Her post goes on to write, “realizing our presence here could put our Haitian team in danger, we have decided to go home this week, if possible.”
“We were warned we would be targeted. The lighter-skinned people are going to be targeted,” said Heather.
“That puts our staff in danger. We talked with our staff and they agreed it would be safer for them if we left.”
In a phone interview with Global Peterborough on Monday morning, Rodin said there’s space for them on a flight back on Tuesday. They will need to leave their compound, approximately 65 kilometres west of the capital of Port-au-Prince, by helicopter.
“There is no way to physically drive (to Port-au-Prince) right now,” said TJ Rodin, Heather and Gord’s son. “They are putting their staff at risk just by being there. They’re eating food. They don’t want to eat the food there, if it could go to someone else. They decided to come home.”
TJ said his parents need to fund their helicopter ride.
“The excess funds raised by the nurses has gone to the medical treatment of a local boy, who got into a motorcycle crash a few days ago,” said TJ.
The rate to charter a helicopter is $2,400 USD.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help them pay for the helicopter.
Craig Foster, who runs the charity’s social media page, tells Global Peterborough that there was no space on the helicopter Monday for the Rodins and their remaining team members.
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The Rodins started 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.
Rodin said a staff of about 45 Haitians will run the compound while they are gone. All programs will run as usual with no interruptions.
“We’ll be back. We’ll be back as soon as it settles down.”