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Orphans stranded in Dawsonville after Hurricane Matthew hits Haiti
Haitian choir
Members of the group Love Him Love Them pause for a photo at Harmony Baptist Church with choir organizer Linda Gunter after Hurricane Matthew hit their native Haiti. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

Haitian orphans who are a part of a traveling choir found themselves stranded this week while their home was battered by Hurricane Matthew.

The group of 22 kids, ranging from ages 4 to 17, are staying at Harmony Baptist Church in Dawsonville after their Monday flight home was canceled due to the storm.

Atlanta-area businesswoman turned adoptive mom and tour organizer, Linda Gunter, has been traveling with them and is now waiting with them to make sure they get back to the only home they know.

"We picked dates out of the air," Gunter said. "Who would have ever thought we would have picked Oct. 3 to return and then Hurricane Matthew would come?"

The choir's final performance was scheduled for Sunday night in Ft. Lauderdale and during the event Gunter received a text message letting them know the flight to Haiti was canceled.

The group found a church family in Griffin who was willing to house and feed them until they could fly out the following day, but that flight was moved and their vehicle broke down.

After a second breakdown, being towed by AAA, and spending a night in a hotel, they are currently living out of the gymnasium behind Harmony Baptist Church.

It has become a laundromat, hotel and restaurant to the orphans who love to sing.

Pastor Tony Holtzclaw who had welcomed the group to their church while on tour, heard about the breakdown and the efforts to find a place for them to stay until their now rescheduled flight out on Oct. 9.

"When Matthew happened they couldn't fly out of Ft. Lauderdale. So they were going back to Griffin to stay with host families and the van broke...and so they are here," Holtzclaw said.

He asked Gunter what they needed and was able to come up with a volunteered trailer and bus and drivers to make the trip 42 miles south of Valdosta to pick up the kids and the broken down bus.

"Tony called and said ‘What do you need? How can we help you?' I told him and he said we are on our way," Gunter said.

Dawson County churches and community have come together to provide food and supplies, even a washing machine so that they can do laundry for the group.

"We drove all night last night and got here about 1 o‘clock in the morning and they had it all set up," she said.

Since they aren't leaving until Sunday, they figured they would schedule a couple of more performances before the return trip.

They will sing the national anthem before the Dawson County High School football game against Union County and will do one more concert at 6 p.m. Saturday at Harmony Baptist.

To learn more about the group and the orphanage, go online to lovehimlovethem.com.

Check next week's edition of the Dawson County News for the full story on the group and their amazing story.

 

 

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