From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
[PCUSANEWS] Missionaries pulled out of Haiti
PCUSA NEWS <PCUSA.NEWS@ecunet.org>
Thu, 26 Feb 2004 08:20:58 -0600
Note #8145 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:
February 26, 2004
Missionaries pulled out of Haiti
PC(USA) officials advise mission groups to postpone visits
by Alexa Smith
LOUISVILLE - All Presbyterian Church (USA) mission personnel have left Haiti
in the wake of a popular revolt that has left more than 50 people dead.
Paul and Joan McClain, who work in northeastern Haiti, left the
island on Feb. 20 and are now staying with relatives in Florida. Paul McClain
is a family physician; Joan McClain is a coordinator of visits of mission
"(The rebels) are methodically taking over the northeast region,
occupying towns, removing or killing police, and establishing martial law,"
He said they decided to leave when three of the four roads into their
town were closed one by one. "It is like a noose tightening up," he said.
"... The situation of Americans in an anarchic scenario would not be good."
The Mission Aviation Fellowship sent a plane to evacuate the
Another missionary couple, Rodney and Sharon Babe, left Haiti last
week to visit a sick family member in Pennsylvania. They told Worldwide
Ministries Division (WMD) officials then that they didn't need to leave for
Rodney Babe is an agriculturalist; Sharon Babe is an educator.
The uprising has delayed the arrival of two other mission workers
assigned to Haiti. Mark Hare, a community development specialist, will remain
for now in Nicaragua, where he works now. Katie Griggs of Topeka, KS, who was
recently appointed as a visitors' program coordinator for a hospital run by a
partner church, is also waiting to begin her work there.
Two weeks ago, WMD began advising presbyteries and congregations not
to send volunteer groups to Haiti while the violence continues.
"At any moment, something can happen," said Maria Arroyo, WMD's
coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean. "We do not want people on
the roads. It is so chaotic, you just never know."
Arroyo said the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese in Haiti, a PC(USA)
partner, has also begun advising against visits. She said WMD's security team
is meeting every other day to evaluate the changing situation.
Paul McClain said a Peace Corps volunteer working in the same region
he and his wife served was pulled out two weeks ago.
"It is tough to say goodbye when your work is unfinished," Joan
McClain said, adding that she and her husband hope to return to Haiti soon.
According to the Rev. Jo Ella Holman, WMD's associate for
international partnerships, three presbyteries have formal partnerships in
Haiti - Peaks, Greater Atlanta and Coastal Carolina.
The rebels are trying to overthrow the government of Haitian
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
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