ROANOKE, Va.- – A Roanoke County church group escapes violent protests and upheaval in Haiti but not before the pastor and five others from Our Lady of Nazareth were delayed in their return to the U.S.
Six parishioners from Our Lady of Nazareth Catholic Church were all smiles as they walked through the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport. Scheduled to return Friday from a mission trip in Haiti their job was to support a teacher-training college.
"Help them get a sustainable source of water. Work to install solar power, although the national grid has become recently available, they were relying on generators," said Gene Yagow.
But violence and protestors in the streets of the island's capital, Port Au Prince, prevented them from reaching an airport. Video shows car tires being set on fire. Protestors are angry about economic mismanagement and corruption. Parishioners say they were never in danger.
One of the parishioners is a native of Haiti and provides translation for many of the trips.
"It is rural but when we go to the campus where we stay, we cannot say it's rural. Because it's really a luxury place to stay," said Clermann Dieudonne.
But they do feel a deeper solidarity with the people in Haiti.
"But to drive past a gas station and to see upwards of 200 people waiting for gasoline because they hadn't been able to get it, to watch two huge water trucks coming up into our compound to provide water for us that was growing short, we were the privileged ones," said Cynthia Unwin.
Because they're concerned about what's going on in Haiti, Pastor Joe Lehman says they'll be in contact with the school more often.
"Our students haven't been to school in a week and they can't keep doing that. Haiti needs good teachers," said Lehman.
Our Lady of Nazareth parishioners plan to return to Haiti next year. To read the blog post about their journey, click here.