‘One day I hope to hug you in heaven,’ US nurse tells kidnappers who held her for 13 days in Haiti

American nurse Alix Dorsainvil gladly would give medical care to the captors who held her and her daughter hostage for nearly two weeks this summer in Haiti, she said in her first public comments since the pair’s release this month.

“I want you guys to know that everything I said during my time in captivity was sincere,” Dorsainvil said directly to her abductors in Haitian Creole in a video on YouTube also shared on the website of the community ministry where she works.

“They were not the manipulative words of someone desperate to escape but simply the truth, especially when I told you my clinic doors are always open to you or anyone in need when you’re sick or wounded, without any problem.”

The New Hampshire native also told the kidnappers, whom she called “gangsters,” she holds “no grudges against you in my heart,” adding, “I love you in Christ, and one day I hope to hug you in heaven.”

Dorsainvil and her daughter were set free 13 days after they were taken in a July 27 encounter involving a gun from the El Roi Haiti site where she works in the capital Port-au-Prince, the non-profit has said. Who kidnapped them and why, as well as the terms of their release, remain unclear.

The US State Department that day ordered the departure of nonemergency government personnel from Haiti, where the security situation recently has deteriorated. That order followed a travel advisory from the US Embassy in Haiti advising US nationals to leave immediately due to armed clashes between criminal groups and police in Port-au-Prince.

Authorities registered 1,014 kidnappings in Haiti from January to June this year – 256 women, 13 girls and 24 boys – according to a United Nations report. While most cases involve locals rich and poor, a gang in 2021 seized 17 US and Canadian missionaries north of the capital and held them for more than a month.

The abduction of Dorsainvil and her child made international headlines and stoked fury in the community she serves. While she was held, Dorsainvil’s captors told her the people of Duvivier had taken to the streets to support her, she said in the video.

“For all those who stood up and marched demanding my freedom, thank you so much,” she said. “I could feel your prayers. God granted me the courage and strength.”

Dorsainvil also implored her kidnappers to choose a more peaceful path.

“I understand that all of you are in a search for happiness, satisfaction, money, power and status to fill the void in your hearts – like a hole in your heart, an empty space within your heart – and you’re searching for all of those things as a way to try to fill that hole, that empty space,” she said.

“But I want you to know that those things will never truly satisfy you. They will never fill the void in your hearts. The only way for this hole to be filled is with the love of Jesus Christ.”

"My love for you all, my love for Haiti has not changed or gone away," Alix Dorsainvil said in the video. - El Roi Haiti
"My love for you all, my love for Haiti has not changed or gone away," Alix Dorsainvil said in the video. - El Roi Haiti

Dorsainvil first visited Haiti after the 2010 earthquake while she was still in college and “fell in love with the people,” El Roi Haiti said in a statement. She then spent breaks from school and summers visiting the Caribbean island nation, saving money and paying her own way back as often as she could.

She’d been on El Roi Haiti’s staff as a nurse to schoolchildren since 2020 and married the non-profit’s director, Sandro Dorsainvil, in 2021, the organization said.

“Despite what happened to me, my love for you all, my love for Haiti has not changed or gone away,” she said. “If it were uniquely my decision, I’d be working in the clinic today. But I know that I’ve undergone a lot of trauma, emotional trauma, and I need to take some time to heal. But I would like to come back to be there for you and to support you in Christ.”

Journalist Jeremy Dupain contributed to this report.

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