Metro Atlanta's Haitian community horrified by violence in Haiti

Metro Atlanta’s Haitian community is watching in horror as gang violence continues to consume the nation. More than 1,500 people have been killed, and hundreds injured in some of the worst fighting in decades.

Heavily armed gangs persist in their assault, paralyzing Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. They have torched police stations, seized control of the city’s international airports and seaports, and disrupted supply chains of food and humanitarian aid, plunging the nation into chaos.

"It’s a desperate situation," said Louis Wilkenson, CEO of the nonprofit Give to Haiti. Wilkenson, a resident of Lawrenceville, was born in Haiti. His brother, niece, and nephew live just outside Port-au-Prince. He hasn’t heard from them in three months. "He has children; I don’t know where they are; they are nowhere to be found."

Wilkenson worries constantly. When asked about the danger his family faces, Wilkenson said, "death, dead."

More than 1,500 people were killed, and over 820 injured from January to March, according to the UN. Nearly 95,000 people have been forced to flee the capital in just one month. "Those who I know who have been fighting for life, what they’re going through has been very, very scary," Wilkenson said.

"It’s pretty scary," said Emmanuel Buteau, the executive director of the Haitian Institute of Atlanta and an assistant professor of theology at Xavier University in Louisiana.

"It’s one of the hardest things for me since I’ve been living in the US to turn on the TV, to turn on the radio, go online and see what’s happening at home," Buteau said.

Buteau’s family was forced to leave their home outside the capital when they saw something terrifying. "They actually found a bullet on the front steps of the house. That’s when they realized the gunshots were reaching closer, closer, closer to us," Buteau said.

Both men call on Haiti’s international partners to do more to end the violence and help forge a peaceful, just, and lasting democracy.

"We need to find a way together to truly chart a new future," said Buteau. "Because otherwise, thousands and millions of people will die unnecessarily," Wilkenson said.

Both men are raising money to send to people in Haiti through an