ATLANTA — A group of American volunteers in Peru says they are unable to get a flight home and don't know when they will be able to return.
Twenty-four people from Atlanta from the Something New organization are working with Venezuelan refugees in Lima, Peru.
They went to Peru in mid-March and now they are saying they may end up staying there for months.
"The morale when you're out on the street is very somber," said the organization's CEO, Jason Armstrong. "When you are going through multiple checkpoints and you have to go through armed guards with their M16s, it's pretty somber."
Armstrong says day by day, conditions there are getting worse.
"We're starting to see signs of people becoming desperate," he said.
Dr. Laura Makaroff was one of the few volunteers to get on a state department flight back to Atlanta but says she wasn't sure she was going to get out.
"The borders closed really unexpectedly," she said. "So, Peru took this really seriously really early on. So, land, water, air -- all the borders closed."
She says the quarantine there is much more strict than it is here.
"On Monday, Wednesday, Friday, men can leave the home," she said. "Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, women can leave the home -- and on Sundays, no one can leave the home."
The volunteers are living in two houses in Peru, supporting 70 refugees. The 24 Atlantans still there say they contact the state department every day.
"We have not been contacted by a flight yet, even though that's been promised multiple times," said volunteer Gwen Brown. "But as we see things get worse and worse here, it just feels like we have to be here more and serve."
Some of the volunteers have chosen to stay, even if they do get a flight home, because they believe in continuing the mission.
"We have all had to face the reality that we may be here for months," Brown said. "And the unknown is really the unsettling factor."
"The encouraging thing is we get to eat on a daily basis," said New Way Revolution CEO Ronald Smith. "We can protect the families, that does a lot for us to know that they're safe."
They want to see it through.
"Through the suffering and hard times, there's a hope that we could come out stronger and more connected," said Brown.
Video Courtesy of Brave Voices Media.
As of Wednesday, the U.S. State Department had helped repatriate more than 6,000 Americans, according to the embassy in Lima, but as you heard from this group, there are still many others who remain stranded.
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