Haitians in the Triangle speak out, remain hopeful as violence escalates in home country

Sean Coffey Image
Wednesday, March 13, 2024
Haitians in NC speak out about violence in home country
Unrest fueled by anti-governmental gang violence continues in Haiti, members of the Triangle's Haitian community denounce the violence.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As a swell of unrest fueled by anti-governmental gang violence escalates in Haiti, ABC11 spoke with members of the Triangle's Haitian community on Tuesday.

This week, Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry stepped down amid the growing crisis, which has included widespread looting, prisoner breakouts, and a siege on the airport. Haitian pastor Jean Alix Paul is living in Haiti near his congregation, Agape Church, despite all the turmoil.

"When you live in the community where there is no education and things like that, I mean, where there's no food, you know, it's very hard to just live for yourself," Paul said via Zoom on Tuesday.

Paul has traveled to Raleigh several times as part of Agape Church's affiliation with Hope Community Church, but admitted it's become difficult to do his work amid the danger that's swept Haiti's streets in recent weeks.

"I can't even help them if I wanted to," Paul described. "It's like -- it's a big risk going on. And then also, when you see people on the street, we don't know who to trust you know, because of what's going on."

Dominique Alphonse-Sainvil has also been deeply moved by her country's recent crisis.

"When you speak of what goes through our minds, that that's truly what the sense of the feeling is -- saddened is what it is," she said.

Alphonse-Sainvil helps run the Carolina Haitian Women's Society and has taken a front-row seat to the Haitian population's growth in the Triangle. Despite the unrest, Dominique -- whose parents and husband were both born in Haiti -- hasn't lost hope.

"We remain optimistic," she said. "We remain resilient in spirit. Even those that are here in the States, we remain hopeful. I don't think the hope will ever be extinguished."

SEE ALSO | US, Germany and EU embassies begin evacuating staff as violence spirals in gang-plagued Haiti