American nurse Alix Dorsainvil kidnapped in Haiti, El Roi nonprofit says

An American woman and her child were allegedly kidnapped near Haiti’s capital city on Thursday, according to the nonprofit organization she works for.

The woman, Alix Dorsainvil, 31, is from New Hampshire but lives in the Caribbean nation and is married to the organization’s director, Sandro Dorsainvil.

El Roi Haiti Outreach International, a faith-focused humanitarian group, announced the kidnapping of a staff member Thursday. On Saturday, the organization identified her as Alix Dorsainvil and said the couple’s child was also kidnapped. Dorsainvil is the organization’s community health nurse.

Dorsainvil and her child were taken from the organization’s campus near Port-au-Prince “while serving in our community ministry” Thursday morning, according to a statement on El Roi Haiti’s website. They remained missing Saturday.

“Alix is a deeply compassionate and loving person who considers Haiti her home and the Haitian people her friends and family,” the statement said. “Alix has worked tirelessly as our school and community nurse to bring relief to those who are suffering as she loves and serves the people of Haiti in the name of Jesus.”

On Thursday, the U.S. State Department ordered non-emergency U.S. government workers at the embassy in Port-au-Prince and diplomatic family members to evacuate and advised all American citizens in Haiti to leave.

“We are aware of reports of the kidnapping of two U.S. citizens in Haiti,” an unsigned email from the State Department’s press office said Saturday. “We are in regular contact with Haitian authorities and will continue to work with them and our U.S. government interagency partners. We have nothing further to share at this time.”

Dorsainvil’s father declined to comment, saying the family has been asked not to speak to the press during ongoing negotiations.

The kidnapping comes amid what human rights advocates have said is a larger wave of abductions and killings in Haiti. The National Human Rights Defense Network warned of the surge two weeks ago, reporting that at least 40 people had been abducted and 75 killed from May 1 to July 12.

Five days before Dorsainvil’s kidnapping, Haitian journalist Blondine Tanis was kidnapped for ransom, abducted as she was arriving home after leaving the radio station where she works, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.

In July 2021, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated; the next month, an earthquake devastated a large swath of the country. Kidnappings surged after the quake, and gangs amassed power through violence in the two years since Moïse’s killing.

As the international community has struggled to address rising gang violence in Haiti, Kenya announced Saturday that it would lead a multinational police force to “help train and assist Haitian police restore normalcy in the country and protect strategic installations.” The announcement ended an eight-month search for a country willing to accept leadership of such a force, requested in October by Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

International officials have estimated up to 10,000 personnel would be required, drawn from law enforcement — rather than military forces — in other countries. Kenya committed 1,000 personnel, and several Caribbean countries have indicated they would contribute. Other countries are also expected to send law enforcement officials.

Unlike a United Nations peacekeeping force, the multinational group does not require U.N. Security Council approval. But Kenya indicated that it would seek a council mandate. Kenya also said it would send a police “assessment mission” to Haiti “within the next few weeks” to “inform and guide the mandate and operational requirements” of the deployment.

The State Department’s travel advisory on Thursday warned Americans not to go to Haiti due to “kidnapping, crime, civil unrest, and poor health care infrastructure.” The Caribbean nation has been plagued by violence and unrest, is experiencing shortages of gasoline and medical supplies, and has an ongoing cholera outbreak, according to the U.S. government.

Last week, those at the U.S. Embassy in Haiti were already under orders not to leave and were prohibited “from walking in Port-au-Prince.” The State Department ordered U.S. personnel not to use public transportation or taxis, visit banks, use ATMs, drive at night or travel anywhere without prior approval.

“U.S. citizens in Haiti should depart Haiti as soon as possible,” the advisory reads.

The State Department also warned that kidnappers use sophisticated methods, often demand ransom and sometimes physically harm their targets. “Kidnapping is widespread, and victims regularly include U.S. citizens,” the travel advisory says.

Dorsainvil “has been living and working in Haiti for some time now,” El Roi president and co-founder Jason Brown said in an email. “Our team at El Roi Haiti is grateful for the outpouring of prayers, care, and support for our colleague. We continue to work with our partners and trusted relationships to secure their safe return.”

She graduated from Regis College, a small private university in Weston, Mass., with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2014, the school said. Antoinette Hays, the school’s president, said in an interview Regis has run programs in Haiti for more than a decade. While the school does not send undergraduate students there, Hays said she was unsurprised Dorsainvil chose to work in the country given Regis’s ties there.

A photo on El Roi’s site appears to show Sandro and Alix Dorsainvil with their arms around each other, green hills in the background.

“My name is Alix. I’m a nurse from New Hampshire, but now I live in Haiti,” Dorsainvil says in a video about her work on the organization’s website. “Sandro invited me to come to the school to do some nursing for some of the kids. He said that was a big need they had.”

Sandro Dorsainvil, El Roi’s director, grew up in Port-au-Prince in poverty, secured a degree in developmental psychology and biblical counseling and began working with El Roi ministries, which include religious, literacy and vocational programs for children and adults, according to the organization’s website.

He graduated from Lustre Christian High School in Montana in 2014. A 2021 alumni newsletter from the school reported that the couple were married in January 2021, were working at El Roi and had adopted one son while fostering two girls.

In a video of their wedding posted to YouTube, the couple exchanged vows that often referenced their shared Christian faith and the depth of their relationship.

“There is no life that I’d like to live without you by my side,” Sandro Dorsainvil said, standing next to the bride in front of a wooden cross adorned with white flowers. “It is my honor and my utmost blessing to seek God with you by my side forever.”

In her vows, Alix said, “It’s been an amazing journey doing life in Haiti with you and watching the Lord work miracles before our eyes.”

Michael Birnbaum, Helier Cheung, Karen DeYoung and Widlore Merancourt contributed to this report.

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