(Update: Feb. 21, 2019) - A team of eight nurses stranded in Haiti amid violent protests were able to safely make it back home this week.
The group of women landed safely at the Toronto Pearson International Airport after a successful GoFundMe campaign enabled them to get a helicopter to take them to Port-au-Prince on Monday.
"Thank you so much for the love and support that you all shared. This truly could not have been possible without any of you," reads an update on the campaign.
The group was working with the foundation Hope Grows. Any remaining funds were to be donated to the foundation to help the people of Haiti.
(Original Story: Feb 16, 2019) - A GoFundMe for eight Canadian nurses stranded in Haiti amid violent protests has significantly exceeded its fundraising goal.
The group of women went to Petit Paradis in Grand Goave, Haiti to volunteer for a foundation called Hope Grows. The team includes Lisa Sturdy, Lauren Davey, Charline Ramgotra, Kirsten Nieminen, Marie Nieminen, Tracy Hotta, Aundrea Trevors, and Katherine Fitzo'Niel.
“We are on a compound that has a church, school, clinic, and feeding program and we came to help the community of Grand Goave,” said the team via the campaign. “Currently, we are stranded here because we are about an hour away from Port-au-Prince where the violent protest is and they have set up barriers on the roads to get to the airports. The airport is in Port-au-Prince.”
The team added that it is unlikely that they will be able to pass those barriers without being harmed, and if they made it to Port-au-Prince they could be taken hostage.
“The people of Haiti are getting very desperate and will do anything to get a change in their government and president,” they said. “The Canadian Embassy in Haiti is closed and calls are being directed to Ottawa but there has been no answer.”
A statement from the foundation notes that there is a threat of further escalation of violence in the area after the latest statements made by the Haitian government.
“The need to evacuate before all communication is lost and food and water is gone, is imperative,” said the foundation. “With our Canadian embassy closed throughout this crisis we have had intermittent communication with Ottawa.”
The team says they are currently rationing everything they have, including food and water, until they can leave the area.
“We are expecting to run out of cell service soon as they run on fuel which we cannot get because during the riots the gas stations have been burned down,” they said.
Air Canada added a flight for Canadian to fly to Montreal on Monday, however the team says that if they reach the airport on Sunday when riots are paused, they can’t stay overnight in the airport, and thus will be forced into the “unpredictable” streets of Port-au-Prince.
“As a solution if we fly by helicopter to the airport on Monday morning, we will be safer.”
It seems they will be able to pay for the helicopter, as the campaign ha reached $18,536. The goal was $9,000.
The funds raised will be sent to the team and will be directly withdrawn into one of the team members accounts. They will then pay for the helicopter on Monday to escort them safely to the airport. The additional funds will be donated in full to hope Grows Haiti.