Mission trip at risk of cancellation
By Raven Ash
Aideen Floretta has spent the semester fundraising with QU Haiti Connections. At the end of the Fall 2019 semester a student group from Quincy University is planning to pack its bags for an annual Haiti mission trip. Floretta is excited to see Haiti and learn about its culture, while experiencing the love its people have to offer. However, this year the trip is at risk of cancellation due to the high amount of violence affecting the nation.
The 12 Haiti Connection members planning the trip were recently notified by Roy Lanham, the Haiti mission trip facilitator, that the Department of State has given Haiti a level three travel advisory.
For public safety purposes, the Department of State provides a travel advisory for every foreign country. The advisories are divided into four levels. To help U.S. citizens travel safely, each advisory makes security risks easy to understand and explains clear action that travelers should take. Level one countries like Great Britain are those with normal risks, while countries like Afghanistan that present risk of terrorism, suicide bombs, landmines and insurgent attacks are ranked as a level four travel advisory.
According to the Department of State, Haiti is a level three advisory due to crime, civil unrest, kidnapping and hostage-taking.
The Haiti Connections group has travelled to Haiti for the past five years under a level three advisory but increase in political unrest could cause the advisory to jump to a level four at any given time. If the advisory reaches a level four, the mission trip will be cancelled.
“I have to look at the larger picture all over the country and do what is best for the safety of the whole group. I am in touch with multiple contacts throughout Haiti,” Lanham said.
Recent 2019 Quincy University graduate, Oluwatimilehin Ajayi, has been living in Haiti for several months now as a part of the Religious Jesus and Mary Quest. Ajayi became passionate about serving Haiti while he was a member and eventually the president of QU Haiti Connections. Despite his love for the country, he also urges former classmates to be aware of the risks in Haiti.
“The people say that the president stole, lied and did other corrupt things. They want the president to step down from his position, otherwise they would continue their violent protest,” Ajayi said. “The protesters threatened to shoot the kids if they come to school. Right now, schools are closed and will potentially be open by January.”
On last year’s mission trip to Haiti, members spent most of their time visiting students and teachers at multiple Haitian schools. While visiting schools, the group interacted with children and their families. They also worked to maintain student and teacher sponsorships. With schools being closed, the group will have to make a new agenda and find a different way to reach the students.
“If the trip is cancelled, we will send love and prayers to those in Haiti. Though we will not be able to go, we will still help and continue to fundraise in whatever ways possible,” Floretta said.