A terrifying situation has been developing in Haiti and several American missionary teams are right in the middle of it.
Violent riots erupted after the impoverished nation’s government announced they would be raising fuel prices to close a budget deficit. In a nation where most people make around $2/day, the increase would bring gas prices to about $20/gallon.
Protesters have been looting, setting fires and wielding weapons. The government has not officially recognized any deaths due to the protests but photos tell a different story.
Several missionary teams from South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Michigan have found themselves cut off from the airport and stranded in the villages they were serving. Some teams have found a way out but others have experienced some terrifying moments as they wait for their opportunity to leave the island. Volunteer Savannah Peek spoke with WSOCTV about her experience so far.
“We heard gunshots start and they were very close,” Peek said. “At this point, we all dropped immediately to the ground. We’re all on our hands and knees. Everyone’s screaming, everyone’s crying.”
Peek said guns were handed out to civilians for protection.
“People started passing out guns to civilians because we thought the 10 were about to break in and rob us, kill us, start a fire. We had no idea.”
The local missionaries said the Haitian people they are staying with are risking their lives to protect them.
Church officials at North Albemarle Baptist in Stanly County told Channel 9 they are keeping in touch with families still in Haiti.
The church took a team of 10 adults and two minors to Haiti, about 45 minutes from Port-au-Prince.
They are stuck because of canceled flights due to violent protests.
Brad Lynch, the church’s pastor, said the group is safe and hopeful to return home by the end of the week. They were supposed to fly back to the States on Saturday.