Diaspora

Leader of Haitian nonprofit conveys desperate situation at Days Inn – Eagle-Tribune

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Updated: October 27, 2022 @ 11:42 am
Hugson Jean-Francios, president of the non-profit organization, Haitians Overseas in Methuen, talks about the Haitian immigrant families recently brought to the Days Inn Hotel.

Hugson Jean-Francios, president of the non-profit organization, Haitians Overseas in Methuen, talks about the Haitian immigrant families recently brought to the Days Inn Hotel.
METHUEN — Two months after celebrating the establishment of his nonprofit organization, Haitians Overseas, Hugson Jean-Francois faces a significant challenge in providing assistance to a group of Haitian immigrants stranded at the Days Inn.
From Oct. 12-14, families were taken from Boston Medical Center and dropped off in Methuen.
“They didn’t know where they were heading,” said Jean-Francois. “They don’t know how long they’re here for. Some of them don’t even step out of this building because they don’t know where to go. There are babies inside and pregnant women.”
As of Oct. 25, the state Department of Housing and Community Development had not released a long-term plan on how to move forward.
Most of the time, Haitians are driven from their homeland by violence, political unrest and natural disasters. They are then promised jobs and a life of prosperity in the United States. However, they soon discover that the reality is much different.
“These people are being dropped,” said Jean-Francois. “We don’t even know how this happened.”
According to the Migration Policy Institute, traveling from Haiti to the United States can be a three-year odyssey that is mostly on foot. The most common route takes immigrants through the South American countries of Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Columbia.
This is where immigrants face the most treacherous part of the trip, a 93-mile-long jungle known as the Darién Gap. It is here that immigrants are most susceptible to running out of food, getting robbed or drowning in a flash flood.
After forcing their way through the Darién Gap, immigrants continue north into Central America, passing through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. From there, they finally reach North America, crossing into Mexico and then the United States.
Jean-Francois said that at this point, housing is the greatest need for the families at the Days Inn. However, Methuen’s housing market has not been favorable. According to Zillow, the average rent in the city is currently $2,300 per month.
Jean-Francois also called attention to another major obstacle that is less than one month away: winter in Massachusetts.
“It’s pretty scary, they don’t have gear for that,” he said.
According to climate.gov, temperatures in Haiti range from the mid- to upper-70s during the winter, a stark difference from New England.
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