JENISON, Mich. — According to national media outlets, several missionaries in Haiti were kidnapped by a gang on Sunday morning while working at an orphanage.
Sus Manos Gleaners, a nonprofit based in Jenison that donates and ships dehydrated foods to Haiti, said they were shocked when they heard the news.
“It really made me sick in the pit of my stomach,” said James Paauw during an interview at the Sus Mano Gleaners facility. “When they kidnap people down there they hold them for ransom and the experience that we’ve had is you never know, even if they pay the ransom, if they’re going to be released.”
Fellow volunteer Deborah Benson said she was stunned as well. She’s been doing mission work in Haiti for the last 10 years and said the threat of kidnappings always looms. However, this year, it’s increased this year.
“In 2021 there have been almost 400 kidnappings, most of them are Haitians but there are 11.4 million people in the country of Haiti,” Benson said. “So, I was telling my own children today, if I were to go to Haiti I’m much more likely to die of COVID than I would be — and even that percentage is very small — than I would be kidnapped.”
Benson said she’s asked all the time whether or not a person should volunteer in Haiti. She said if you believe it’s a calling, then go. However there are other ways to help, like volunteering with Sus Manos Gleaners.
“One of the ministries where I serve in Haiti has a school and the director of the school has seen a 50 percent rise in the health of the kids,” Benson said. “How do we see that? [That’s] 50 percent less missing of school due to illnesses since we’ve been adding in the fruits and vegetables to there foods. So, it’s doing an enormous amount of good to have the foods go down there.”
***If you would like to volunteer at Sus Manos Gleaners, click here.***