Minnesota nonprofit helping Haiti keep schools, medical clinic open

The government of Haiti has fallen and the country, right now, is in control of rival gangs which the United Nations has called a “cataclysmic” situation.

Working at his home in Lakeville, Haiti Empowered CEO Peter Carlson told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS his organization has 10 schools with 2,500 students and a medical clinic about 30 miles outside Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. He is working hard with 250 staff members there to keep the schools and clinic operating.

Carlson said just prior to the gangs taking over, he was hidden in the back of a small vehicle when it reached a gang checkpoint.

“They’re pounding on the doors, opening the door, demanding money and I am thinking, ‘If we get caught, this is it for us,’” said Carlson. “And, frankly, I am hoping they have a machine gun rather than a machete in their hand.”

Carlson said the schools and clinic are still open, but gangs have either been stealing supplies or demanding exorbitant amounts of money to allow the supplies to get through.

“Food, water, clothing and medical supplies are still needed because it is really hard to get it to Port-au-Prince and it can be equally as difficult to get it from Port-au-Prince to the outlying areas,” said Carlson.

Carlson said the best way for Minnesotans to help is through financial donations on their website because of the high cost of getting supplies to the schools and clinic.