Crisis In Haiti Has Some Green Country Residents Worried About Loved Ones

A nonprofit based in Haiti told News On 6 it has several board members from the Tulsa metro. Those volunteers stopped going to Haiti because of the dangers, but they said they are committed to the mission.

Monday, March 25th 2024, 6:46 pm



The U.S. State Department is working to fly people out of Haiti as the country reels from gang warfare.

The violence is causing concern for some Green Country residents with ties there, who are worried about their loved ones.

A nonprofit based in Haiti told News On 6 it has several board members from the Tulsa metro.

Those volunteers stopped going to Haiti because of the dangers, but they said they are committed to the mission.

Deborah Vanderveen lives in Broken Arrow and has been to Haiti 10 times.

She said the last time was four years ago because it is too dangerous there.

"It was really sad to me how poor everybody was and destitute,” said Vanderveen. “Every day was just trying to survive."

She has been involved with The United States Foundation for the Children of Haiti for 18 years.

The nonprofit has a hospital, children's homes and schools in Port-au-Prince, where gang members are killing people and destroying homes.

"We worry about and are concerned about everybody's safety down there because the country's basically run by gangs right now,” said Vanderveen.

Vanderveen has been in constant contact with USFCH staff, especially her friend, Gladys Thomas, the foundation's president and CEO.

Thomas is a naturalized U.S. citizen and lives in Haiti, where she says this is the worst she's ever seen.

"Sheer violence and terror,” said Thomas.

Thomas was able to escape just a few days ago through a dangerous trek to the U.S. Embassy, where a helicopter took her to the Dominican Republic, then she got a flight to the U.S.

"Leaving so much behind not knowing what the outcome is going to be, it's not a very good feeling,” said Thomas.

Thomas and Vanderveen said they promise to continue their mission.

"Life is going to resume in Haiti somehow because violence, the wickedness will not last forever,” said Thomas. “It will end sometime."

The non-profit said it is able to continue operations for now but needs help with supplies.

It says for $45 a day, you can sponsor a child with food, schooling and clothing. For more information on the organization, click here.

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