Cary Man's Work In Haiti Cut Short
Posted March 1, 2004 3:11 a.m. EST
CARY, N.C. — People have been leaving the island nation of Haiti by the thousands. One local missionary made it out on the last commercial flight.
Jamie Rhoads' journey started with Haiti Fund Incorporated. He volunteered for missionary work last summer after graduating from college.
Living with a family on a remote hillside an hour's walk from the nearest street, Rhoads quickly immersed himself in Haitian life. The missionary helped people build homes, plant trees and raise fish to eat.
It was tough work, but peaceful. The group would hear of protests in faraway cities and think little of them -- until recently.
"We were getting e-mails from the Embassy saying these are your fallback destinations. We'll have helicopters and military charter planes and that [made us] a little nervous," Rhoads said.
A week ago, his group decided to evacuate. Rhoads said goodbye to his Haitian family, hiked to a street and arranged for a ride to the airport in Port-au-Prince.
"Our driver that took us in risked life and limb," Rhoads said.
While he was in the city waiting to clear customs paperwork, Rhoads saw roadblocks manned by Aristide factions, but not the gunfire and chaos shown on TV.
"It was eerily calm," he said. "Nobody knew what was going to happen."
After hours of racing from safe house to safe house, Rhoads managed to board the last commercial flight out of Haiti on Thursday. Now safe at home in Cary, he worries about his family a world away.
"They're not in a dangerous situation as far as gun battle, but I think the whole country is in such a dangerous situation," he said.
Rhoads planned to be in Haiti for a year. He hopes to return once things settle down.