Video: Beloved Sanford resident back after being stuck in Haiti

By Jeff Allen, Seminole County Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, January 12, 2018, 12:43 PM EST

After the Sanford community rallied for more than a year to help get Henry Dorvil out of Haiti and back home, he’s finally back in Central Florida.

Dorvil is now talking about his experience in Haiti and how he was able to make his way back to the United States.

Henry Dorvil went from running his own TV production company in Sanford, back to Haiti, where he had no internet access, no electricity and no running water.

He had to pull water out of wells with a bucket — for everything.

“That was the water that made the food, everything. There was no indoor plumbing,” Dorvil said. “It took me two weeks to get used to that.”

Dorvil’s family moved to Orlando when he was just five months old.  His mom, dad and siblings all had citizenship; he did not.

In Dec. 2016, when he went back to Haiti to get his paperwork fixed, he wasn’t allowed to come back.

Dorvil was well-known in the Sanford community — a community that immediately did everything it could do to get Henry back.

People launched the “Help Henry” campaign. Painted murals went up across town and dozens of people even wrote Haitian immigration officials.

“It ended up being over 100 letters sent from me and my lawyer to immigration, and I thought wow that’s cool. That means I’m coming home soon,” said Dorvil.

Or so he thought — but it wouldn’t be that easy. Dorvil had to prove there was a good reason to expedite his return.  He had one: He needed to be here to support his mom.

“My mother is disabled, and she has arthritis in both of her knees, and it’s very hard for her to work,” said Dorvil.

But several more months went by, and Dorvil believes a call from Sanford’s historical preservation officer to Senator Marco Rubio’s office sped up the slow process.

And then three days before Christmas, a friend in Sanford offered to pay for his flight home.

“She said whenever you find out, I want to secure a planet ticket for you, and I thought wow that’s really amazing,” said Dorvil. “That was the 22nd and on the 28th, not even a week later, immigration calls me and says come pick up your visa.”

By New Year’s Eve, Dorvil was back in Central Florida.

“I really want to thank everybody in the community, everybody in Sanford, all of my church family who’ve been praying and helping my mom stay positive and helping her out with all of the duties I wasn’t able to help her out with,” said Dorvil.

Dorvil and his family are now working to form a nonprofit organization to help others who find themselves in his situation.

“Just to make it a little easier,” said Dorvil. “It’s not to say there shouldn’t be a process – I believe there should be a process – but I feel it could be just a little bit easier.”

Dorvil said he’s working to get permanent U.S. citizenship.