Rayjon volunteers safe but stranded in Haiti

As reported by the Observer Friday morning, Rayjon volunteers in Haiti are safe but unable to leave the beleaguered Caribbean nation until rioting following an outbreak of cholera eases.

Observer reporter Shawn Jeffords quoted Rayjon board chair Dan Shannon in saying rioting started in the streets and involved burning tires and barricading streets. "Our folks were never in any danger. They stayed in the convent, and in essence, can't leave."

The convent is a hilltop refuge overlooking Cap-Haitien, in the north of Haiti.

Trapped for the moment are Rayjon ShareCare co-founder John Barnfield, his wife Maggie, judge Deborah Austin, lawyer Peter Westfall and board member Dianne McKillican plus two unidentified individuals.

The source of the protestors frustration appears to be a cholera epidemic that has claimed more than 1,000 lives and sickened more than 18,000 more. Speculation that the source of the cholera is UN peacekeepers from Nepal (where cholera is a problem) has been refuted by the UN.

Shannon told the Observer that the Sarnia visitors are doing well, as long as they remain where they are. “It would not be wise for them to go outside.”

A Friday night "Starvathon" fundraiser is expected to go on as planned at Grace United Church in spite of hte fact that some of those stranded are involved in the planning.

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