NAPLES, Fla. - Violent protests in Haiti have people who work for a Naples-based nonprofit group unable to travel - or even to go out into the streets. After Haiti's government announced last week that there would be a forty-to-fifty percent hike in fuel prices, protests have erupted - some violent - and the aid work of fifty-one staff of the Naples-based Hope For Haiti is on hold until the streets are safe.
"Most people are just seeing a lot of the images that we're all seeing (on the news,)" said Stephanie Jepsen of Hope For Haiti. "It's sometimes a little violent."
So all fifty-one of Hope For Haiti's staff in the country - many of whom are Haitians who live there full-time - are sheltering in place, unable to continue their work until the protests die down.
"We just really want to take all precautions and make sure that the team is safe," Jepsen said.
Seventeen members of a Cape Coral church were trapped in Haiti for several days after the protests began, causing flights in and out of the country to be canceled. The parishioners of Cape Christian Fellowship were delivering supplies to a village outside of Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince. They've been making their way home as some flights have gone back into service.
"Everybody's grateful to be back," said Pastor Dennis Gingerich. "But I don't think they would trade the experience. They were there to serve. There's a lot of need there, and there's a lot of poverty that creates a lot of angry people."
"They were just trying to process everything they'd seen, because they saw a lot of burned-out cars," he added.
Jepsen said that the volatile situation in Haiti underscores the importance of their work in the impoverished nation.
"As the situation calms down, hopefully in the coming days we'll resume our regular work in poverty alleviation," she said.