Nfld. & Labrador

Deadly Haiti protests keeping Newfoundlander from getting back to the orphanage she runs

A Newfoundlander is desperate to get back to her orphanage in Haiti but after five failed attempts she’s still stuck in Springdale with no hope of leaving any time soon. 

Karen Huxter says living conditions are poor and the violence is alarming

Karen Huxter, with her adopted son Ti-Luc, is one of the directors of Hands Across the Sea, which runs a children's home and school near Port-au-Prince. (Hands Across The Sea/Facebook)

A Newfoundlander is desperate to get back to her beloved orphanage in Haiti but after five failed attempts she's stuck in Springdale with no hope of leaving any time soon. 

Karen Huxter is one of the directors of Hands Across the Sea, a non-profit organization that runs a children's home and school in Deschapelles, a town about 50 kilometres north of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

"People are being killed, people are literally starving right now, people have no water, people can't go to school. It's just a mess," Huxter told CBC Newfoundland Morning.

I have tears rolling down my face and I am, like, 'Get me back there.'- Karen Huxter

Huxter said she planned to go back in April, June, August and September, and she had tickets booked to fly out Monday. But each time she has been told it's too dangerous. 

"Will I get there? Unless there are big changes, no."

Ti-Luc recently received Canadian citizenship. (CBC)

Her staff at the orphanage keep her updated on their condition — that is, when they have electricity.

She said the orphanage is often without power, which means no refrigerator and no water. There were no classes at the school last week and none scheduled for this week. 

On top of poor living conditions, she said, the violence is alarming. 

Difficult to keep children fed

Huxter said it's impossible to drive on the roads because they are always blocked. Cars are often pelted with large rocks and sometimes oil and glass is purposely spilled on the road to stop moving vehicles. 

Without a refrigerator to keep food cold or a way to get to a grocery store, Huxter said, it's getting harder to feed the children. 

"Things are really, really bad," she said. 

"It's not easy. I can be OK for a while and the next thing I am walking around praying out loud. I have tears rolling down my face and I am, like, 'Get me back there.'"

Huxter said does not want the children to think she has abandoned them. 

Protests across Haiti began in July 2018, escalating in February, making it sometimes impossible for students to go to school. (Hands Across the Sea/Facebook)

The violence comes from protests demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse.

"I can't say who is in the right, who is in the wrong. I don't like the violence that is coming with it," said Huxter, who is asking for people to pray for her orphanage and for the country.

"I understand the people, I know the people, and they have just had all they can take."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from CBC Newfoundland Morning