Utahn Refusing to Leave 'Sons' in Haiti

Utahn Refusing to Leave 'Sons' in Haiti

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Bruce Lindsay ReportingMissionaries and aid workers are streaming out of Haiti tonight following a violent two week rebel uprising.

Several thousand students filled the streets of Port-au-Prince to demand President Jean Bertrand Aristide step down. They're part of a much larger movement. Rebels now control the country's northern towns and villages. Aristide vows to die rather than give up power before his term ends.

The US Embassy believes as many as 20,000 Americans are in Haiti and the State Department has urged them to leave. But Bruce Lindsay today talked with one American in Haiti who isn't ready to go.

Rebecca Maesato of Hyde Park, Utah, moved to Haiti in 2002 with two daughters to do what they could for that country's countless orphans. We introduced them to you a year ago in a special report from Haiti. Now Maesato is standing against Haiti's violence to complete an affair of the heart.

Hundreds of Americans crowded Haiti's main airport today, anxious to get out while they can. Rebecca Maesato drove past the airport today; she's not planning to leave. In a telephone interview, she told me why.

Rebecca Maesato: "I'm here because I've got eight kids of my own that are here, and I'm not quite ready to flee them."

Rebecca Maesato's "kids" are the boys she and her daughters rescued from Haiti's mean streets. She took them under her roof, gave them food, clothes, schooling, discipline and love. And she doesn't consider this temporary duty.

She's found homes in America for some, but plans to bring seven to Utah to live in her family, four as her adopted sons. The legal procedures are slow and costly and she won't abandon them now.

Rebecca Maesato: "They literally would just go back to the streets. That's what they do. That's what they know. They have no other options."

Maesato's daughters, Leah and Ann, returned to Utah two weeks ago at their mother's urging to move ahead with their lives. Are they worried for her?

Ann Maesato: "I am, and my brothers. We're hoping that we can get the funds that we need to that she can come home as soon as she can, with the boys."

Leah Maesato: "Really, my mom and our family is the only chance that these boys have. And that's why my mom refuses to leave. She knows that God wants the best for these boys, and so she feels as if she will be protected because she is their only chance."

Rebecca Maesato says money for the adoptions and visas are now the biggest hurdle to getting her new, big family out.

You can read more about it, in tomorrow's edition of the Deseret Morning News.

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