In the midst of the missionary’s hostage crisis, Minnesotan from Port-Au-Prince wants ‘Haiti to get the help they need’ WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The future is still unclear for 17 missionaries, where a religious group in Ohio was held hostage in Haiti.

The group includes 16 U.S. citizens, five of whom are children. The Christian group says a notorious Haitian gang is to blame.

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It is the latest in ongoing unrest in the Caribbean country. It is chaos that many Minnesotans are watching closely, hoping more can be done to stop it.

A WCCO camera captured an enthusiastic 9-year-old in 2010 when Patrice Shelton arrived at her new Minnesota home. She survived a catastrophic earthquake at her orphanage in Port-au-Prince with her younger brother, Phillippe.

“It was definitely traumatic. A lot was going on. Coming to a new country, without knowing the language and everything, ”said Patrice Shelton. “Adapted to the culture and just moved on.”

Patrice is 21 years old now and works two jobs with a passion for helping people – and wants peace in her home country.

“The earthquake in which the president was assassinated, it’s just that Haiti needs a break,” Patrice Shelton said.

The last earthquake in August killed more than 2,200. And after the assassination, the kidnappings have increased by about 300%. More than 600 have been reported just this year.
Ruben Joanem is from the Haiti Justice Committee.

Patrice Shelton (Credit: CBS)

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“It is a level of lawlessness that the country has initiated. It’s a shock, “said Joanem.

He just returned home to the twin cities of Haiti two weeks ago. His Haiti Justice Committee in Minnesota took a trip to help rebuild.

Joanem describes a terrible situation: Today’s long wait for fuel and negotiations with gangs to be able to deliver.

“The institutions down there are no longer functioning,” Joanem said.

Patrice and Phillippe are grateful for what they have now.

“There’s a lot to be thankful for,” Patrice said.

Her brother is away serving in the National Guard as a local family hopes others will be aware of Haiti’s situation.

“I’m happy to be here and I wish Haiti would get the help they need,” Patrice said.

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The gang kidnapped the group of missionaries on Saturday after visiting an orphanage in Port-au-Prince. The U.S. State Department has said it is aware of the situation and that welfare and security for U.S. citizens abroad is one of its top priorities.

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