Charlottesville residents with connections to Haiti describe devastation and scramble to help

October 25, 2021
Tamica Jean-Charles
Haitian children
Two children from Haiti observe as the Coast Guard performs a medevac Aug. 24, 2021. Courtesy of Coast Guard News/Creative Commons.

Michael Anello wasn’t able to drive after dawn until he came back to Charlottesville in mid-October. He lives in a guesthouse in Léogâne, Haiti, located 18 miles west of the capital of Port-au-Prince. The chances of getting mugged, or worse, are high, he said, but the 67 year old remains unafraid.

The tumultuous summer and ongoing events threw the country into a state of unrest, with foreign people and Haitian natives alike fleeing the country in droves. 

Anello’s been threatened by rocks from fed-up natives who have become violent toward Americans after the recent Haitian deportations from the United States. Locals have told Anello to leave or else he will endure a more severe punishment. 

Despite orders from his supervisors back in the U.S., Anello told them repeatedly that he would stay in Léogâne. 

“Haitians are afraid, and that’s the big piece,” said Anello, executive director of the Haiti Reforestation Partnership and in-country director for Family Health Ministries.

Anello is one of a handful of current and former Charlottesville residents who have studied, volunteered and lived alongside Haitians. Some have encountered the impacts of the country’s problems firsthand. The back to back catastrophes don’t come as a shock for them, but enforce the need for them and others to stay involved with the revolving events.

The Global Policy Center's Professor David Leblang comments on what Haitians who are seeking asylum are currently experiencing.
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