Five members of the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation in Randolph arrived safe at home after leaving an earthquake-ravaged Haiti on Tuesday.

Five members of the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation in Randolph arrived safe at home after leaving an earthquake-ravaged Haiti on Tuesday.


“I’m just happy to be here,” said Linda Canniff of Norwood, chief operations officer of St. Boniface said shortly after arriving at Logan Airport Wednesday night. “I just can’t tell you how happy I am to be here.”


St. Boniface has operated a hospital in Fond des Blancs, Haiti, for about 20 years, said Paul Fanning, the group’s director of development.


Canniff and four others who came home Wednesday were part of an immersion group that had gone to see the hospital.


The visitors arrived in Haiti last Tuesday, the same day a magnitude-7.0 earthquake killed an estimated 200,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless in the impoverished Caribbean country.


A magnitude-6.1 aftershock rattled the country hours before the group left Fond des Blancs.


“It’s been a very long period of time for all of us,” Canniff said earlier on Wednesday from a plane in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as she waited to leave for Boston. “I’m still trying to process all of this right now.”


They were about 21/2 hours from Port-au-Prince on their way to the hospital when the earthquake struck, Canniff said. They thought the rumble was coming from their car.


“We didn’t realize at that point that we had been involved as a part of such a devastating natural disaster,” Canniff said. “We were told that we were so lucky; that we had just barely missed it.”


On Tuesday, flying over Haiti in a helicopter bound for Santo Domingo, Canniff witnessed the damage from the earthquake.


“From the helicopter ride going over, you could see the devastation,” Canniff said. “It looks like all the structures that were made out of concrete had the most destruction. We saw tons of people out in the middle of fields, soccer fields, (with) makeshift tents – most of them didn’t have tents, they were using clothes.”


Canniff said she saw a cathedral that the group had visited earlier. It was in ruins.


“It was really incredible to see that building totally decimated by the earthquake,” she said.


Canniff said St. Boniface’s efforts to aid people in Haiti will continue.


“Our major focus at this point is to come home and ... to make sure that people in the United States understand what (many Haitians) have gone through,” Canniff said. “They all feel like they need help ... they feel helpless at this point. They have lost everything including their important papers, their identity. For a poor country and a poor people to have lost family and friends – they’ve lost more than the little they had.”


Canniff said members of the group had attended a funeral for the 4-year-old daughter of their chauffeur.


“It was just so hard to see him so sad,” she said.


Also on board the flight home were Martha Higgins of Brookline, Lee Cribello of Arlington, Sue Kelleher of Walpole, and Anne Power of Waltham.


Four other members of the group had flown home earlier in the week.


Canniff’s father, Fred and mother, Nannette, who is the director of St. Boniface, were also in the country and flew home with their daughter Wednesday.


“We’re still having a hard time processing everything that we saw during this whole thing,” Canniff said. “It was a very, very different immersion experience from anything we’ve ever dealt with before.”


Amy Littlefield may be reached at alittlef@ledger.com