In the eye of the storm
It was not the homecoming Harry Hames expected. As he…
Updated: We are happy to report the team from the Petersville Church of Christ has returned home safely.
See original story below.
In Haiti, rioters and roadblocks are keeping an Alabama mission team from returning home.
Members of the Petersville Church of Christ in Florence were supposed to fly from the capital, Port-au-Prince, on Saturday after a week of mission work, said Harry Hames, a longtime missionary to the Caribbean nation.
The group of 14 traveled to Haiti to help secure land for a new orphanage and to organize a Vacation Bible School for children. They were wrapping up their work and preparing to leave when chaos broke out.
A sharp rise in fuel prices — gasoline, diesel and kerosene — sent Haitians into the streets, burning grocery stores and other businesses and setting up roadblocks to disrupt commerce.
The U.S. Embassy in Haiti encouraged Americans in the country to shelter in place.
Hames, a member of the Flint Church of Christ in Decatur, had himself been scheduled to go to Haiti on Friday, July 6. In the hours before he was scheduled to leave, he received a message from a security guard he knows in Haiti telling him to hold off, that it would not be safe for him to come.
Saturday, in an effort to calm the chaos, Haiti’s Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced a temporary stop to the price increases.
However, by that time the streets filled with rioters and more than 100 Americans, most in the country for missions related trips, were staying in a guarded compound in an undisclosed location.
The group from Alabama is among those at the compound.
Hames said his sources in Haiti agree, the situation is beginning to calm down. The Christians working in the country may be able to get flights home in the next day or two.
However, he said, the chaos and rioting of the past few days will likely have a lasting impact.
“This isn’t what I’ve seen the last eight years,” Hames said. “This is going to set the work back many years because people won’t travel out of fear of whether it’s a safe country.”
Hames plans to reschedule his trip to Haiti for later this month.
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