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Middleton missionary group members reflect on Haiti safety concerns after recent kidnappings

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 11:04 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In the wake of 17 members of a missionary group being kidnapped in Haiti over the weekend, Christian missionaries from Middleton say safety has always been a concern.

After more than a dozen trips to Haiti, Tia Bunz says the country has never felt safe. The executive director of the Fond Blanc Foundation stopped her American staff from traveling into the country two years ago.

“It has been bad and this is the worst we’ve ever seen,” said Bunz. “It’s very horrifying.”

Members of the Fond Blanc Foundation, which runs a Christian orphanage in a remote part of Haiti, said their work began in the aftermath of the 2020 earthquake.

“That’s why we’re called to Haiti because it is so dangerous there,” Bunz said. “However, it just has gotten to the point where it’s elevated so desperately that we can’t go down.”

Her daughter, Olivia, also worked at the Christian orphanage in the village of Fond Blanc. Traveling to and from cities is what she said is the most dangerous.

“The constant thought of, there is a chance we could get kidnapped today,” said Olivia. “That’s been a threat since before kind of the instability of the last year.”

The leader of the gang that police say is holding the missionaries also threatened Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the chief of Haiti’s National Police, Léon Charles, as he spoke in front of the open coffins that apparently held several members of his gang who were recently killed.

“I’m not surprised. The government’s unstable right now, the gangs are running things in and around the area that that mission group was working in,” said Olivia. “It doesn’t really surprise me or shock me at all.”

The mother and daughter’s dreams of returning to Haiti seem further than before.

“These are children and families that we love and care for,” said Tia. “There’s no way through this part. So I would go tomorrow, if I could, and I have a feeling that that’s probably a long ways away.”

The missionaries say as of now, the orphanage is safe due to its remote location. However, it is facing food insecurity as a result because getting food to the village is difficult with roads being shut down.

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