Good-hearted Americans used to helping, now leaving Haiti for safety

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - From natural disasters to political ones, the country of Haiti is facing turmoil as Americans who often help are growing concerned.

Haiti has experienced crisis after crisis this year.

From a political assassination over the summer to an August earthquake and continued economic instability - those who’ve traveled to Haiti to help are now getting out for safety’s sake.

Haiti’s most recent crisis consists of kidnapping gangs. The latest incident includes 17 members from a U.S.-based missionary group being kidnapped by a Haitian gang as they demand $1 million per person in ransom.

“Are people going to try to come into my home and do something bad?” said Paul Perissien, Executive Director of Mission Haiti, “It has been an extremely difficult path this year.”

Perissien spoke to 6 News from Haiti, he’s part of a different organization than the one kidnapped and targeted for ransom.

Mission Haiti” is a faith-based organization from Sioux Falls. Over the years, thousands of people from the Midwest have done what they could to help the people of Haiti.

Breanna Burkland grew up in Omaha - she serves as the U.S. Missions and Operations Manager and is now in Denver, Colorado.

“It’s definitely a scary thing to be faced with something we thought was not very possible,” said Burkland, “We’re in unknown territory now.”

Before now, gangs in Haiti typically stayed away from foreigners.

Not anymore.

One watchdog group says at least 119 kidnappings took place in Haiti in the first half of this month alone.

“We have 3,000 students in our program, medical clinics, and 300 workers we pay in Haiti. All of that is now in question because of the instability,” said Perissien.

Paul Perissien will soon leave Haiti with his family. The departure comes with an uncertainty of when he will return and what, if any, progress will look like for the Haitian people in the future.

Perissien also says Haiti is at a point where something worse is going to happen before things get better.

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