Jim Allen is one of the eight Americans who was released from the Haitian prison. Jim says he originally decided to go to Haiti because he felt he was in a position to help after the devastating earthquake. "I had some construction skills, some experience. I felt like I could leave my job for three or four weeks and I could go over there and use these skills and experience to help the Haitian people," he says. "When I first left, I didn't know what to expect. My intentions were I knew I had some skills I thought I could use and I could go and do that or whatever else was asked of me. Basically, I just felt the need to help them."
Jim says he traveled with his group to a number of orphanages around Port-Au-Prince. During those visits, Jim says they were introduced to children who were said to have no home or parents to go home to. He says one of the orphanage directors asked if they could take the children and try to help them. "As we got their name and their birth dates, we wrote those down and they got on our bus and we started taking care of them, basically," he says. The plan, he says, was to take the children to a restored hotel in the Dominican Republic that had been set up as an orphanage.