OHIO, USA — Captive missionaries in Haiti found freedom last week by making a daring overnight escape, eluding their kidnappers and walking for miles over difficult, moonlit terrain with an infant and other children in tow, according to Christian Aid Ministries.
Officials with the Ohio-based agency detailed their journey to safety in a press conference Monday.
A total of 17 people from the missionary group — 12 adults and five minors — were abducted Oct. 16 shortly after visiting an orphanage in Ganthier, in the Croix-des-Bouquets area, where they verified it had received aid from CAM and played with the children, CAM has said.
The group included 16 Americans and one Canadian.
Their captors from the 400 Mawozo gang initially demanded millions of dollars in ransom. Five other captives had earlier reached freedom.
CAM Spokesman Weston Showalter said the group was held in small spaces before being allowed to spend some time outside. They were also given necessities like toilet paper and toothbrushes. The 10-month-old child was given baby food. Drinking water was also made available, but sometimes not enough of it.
Five of the 17 missionaries were released in late November.
The remaining 12 planned their escape. On Dec. 15, the group sensed the timing was right and figured out a way to open a closed and blocked door, Showalter said.
The group quietly went down a path and left the place they were being held.
They carried the infant and 3-year-old, wrapping the baby to protect her from the briars and brambles.
“After a number of hours of walking, day began to dawn and they eventually found someone who helped to make a phone call for help,” he said, his voice beginning to choke. “They were finally free.”
CAM General Director David Troyer said supporters of the organization raised money to use as a possible ransom, but he did not say if any ransoms were paid.