ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan family that has spent the last two decades carrying out mission work in Haiti say they’ve experienced an increased danger in recent years, leading them to temporarily return to the states.
Cory and Kris Thede from Allegan began their service work in Haiti in the late 90s, providing agricultural, medical and spiritual training and resources.
Typically, they spend about ten months out of the year living in Haiti. However, the recent uprising in gang violence has them staying in Allegan for the foreseeable future. The family returned from Haiti earlier this summer after spending most of the year secluded in the rural areas of the country.
To avoid the armed gangs, they limited all travel, especially in and around the capital of Port-au-Prince.
“I go two months or so between supply runs and I just go down to the little town at the base of the mountain,” Cory Thede said. “We’ve avoided travel for the least two or three years because of the crime.”
Cory Thede returned from Haiti earlier this month as the family is choosing to stay stateside for the time being given the uptick in violence and kidnappings.
Seventeen missionaries, including six people from a Hart-area family, were recently kidnapped for ransom by a gang in Haiti.
Although it may be risky, the family hopes to return home to Haiti after the holidays. The Thedes said they’re more knowledgeable about the culture than the average missionary and have been trained on what to do if taken hostage.
“It’s to stay calm and know that people are trying to negotiate for your release and not cause trouble,” Kris Thede said.
They’ve also come to rely on WhatsApp, a messaging service where users alert one another about gang sightings or activity.
The Thedes regularly post about their work on their blog.