West Michigan family evacuated after violence during Haiti mission trip


    West Michigan family evacuated after violence during Haiti mission trip. (WWMT/Courtesy Kris Thede)

    A West Michigan family was evacuated from the home they were staying in the mountains after violence broke out during a missionary trip to Haiti.

    The U.S. State Department told people not to travel Haiti due to the crime and civil unrest. All non-emergency U.S. personnel and their family members have been told to evacuate.

    "The roads were closed so we couldn't safely get to the airport. If you did, you have to pay a lot of bribes at the road blocks," Cory Thede said.

    People in Haiti were facing a political and economic crisis that put a strain on basic resources. Cory and Kris Thede understood the challenges and dangers dealt with by the people in Haiti.

    They've lived and done missionary work in Haiti for two decades, because they said they have a passion that saves lives. Cory has a degree in fruit horticulture and Kris is a doctor. Together they've helped people grow their own food in extremely tough terrain.

    "I've tried to introduce some new crops like different fruit trees. We've been able to experiment and see what does well," Cory said.

    Their routine mission was cut short just days ago, because of crime and unrest across the country. According to the U.S. State Department, protests and tire burning are frequent and unpredictable

    "There was unrest about the fuel prices and the lost aid that should have been used for development," Cory said.

    Kris said oftentimes aid is not distributed to people properly.

    "Think about if you had one to two days of food, all of your transportation costs doubled, your kids aren't in school and some food places are three to four times the cost if you can pay for it if it's there, how would you feel?" she said.

    The couple got a letter from The Wesleyan Church, the group that sponsors them, that said these were desperate times for the people of Haiti and the couple were told they would be evacuated.

    That's where they hit some road blocks. The only way out was by helicopter. Luckily, the Thedes were living and working out in the country, far from the violent unrest going on in the cities.

    They've just arrived in the U.S., but are already thinking about when they can return.

    Cory and Kris don't know when they'll be able to go back.

    "We pray we can go back in as soon as possible especially since our work is food security," Kris said.

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