It has now been nearly one month since a group of 17 missionaries, 16 Americans and one Canadian were kidnapped in Haiti during a trip to visit an orphanage.
The group is a part of the Christian Aid Ministries, which has headquarters in Millersburg, Ohio, a village stretching slightly over 2.5 square miles with a population of 3,151 people.
The ages of the missionaries vary, but five of them are children with the youngest only 8 months old and the others 3, 6, 14 and 15 years, per a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Not much is known about the state of the victims, but a report from Reuters stated that a senior official in the Biden administration confirmed there is proof of life for at least some of the victims.
The lack of information with regard to the identities and demographics of the hostages has left the communities surrounding Millersburg, like Berlin, shaken.
For the past 29 years, artist Tammy Weaver has owned Country from the Heart, a country-folk art shop in Berlin.
“A lot of people are wondering what’s going on with it because we don’t hear anything. Nobody seems to know if they’re going to be free or if anybody’s been hurt or if anybody’s been killed, so it’s sad,” she said.
Weaver described the community as loving and God-fearing. She said praying for the victims is the most important action to take right now.
“We’re all praying for them and we wish we had some news about it,” she said.
The leader of the 400 Mawazo gang released a video claiming responsibility for the attack and Haiti’s Justice Minister Liszt Quitel said the gang is demanding $17 million, $1 million for each of the victims taken.
Christian Aid Ministries is unable to provide interviews or any additional information, but updates are posted almost daily on the organization’s website.
A close family member of one of the victims expressed gratitude for the outpouring of prayers and support from those in the community and around the country in an update posted on Nov. 11, 2021.
In another update posted on Nov. 10, 2021, the organization revealed that one of the hostages is an employee at the headquarters in Millersburg. The update shared a saying posted on the employees desk that says, “God created you for ministry. If you are not serving, you are just existing. God wants to use you to make a difference in this world.”
The reports of the kidnapping have struck a nerve for many in Holmes County. Joslynn Horne is a high school student in Berlin. She said in this community, everyone knows everyone. She drives past the Christian Aid Ministries office every day on her way to school.
“There’s not a whole lot of crime at all in our community, so I feel like it disturbed a lot of people that something so big has affected our community,” she said.
Horne said the source of worry from herself and her friends is that such little information has been revealed about those who were kidnapped.
“I think a lot of people are worried about the fact that not a lot of information has been told about it. Not a lot of people know the details I guess, just that it happened in general,” she said.
As eagerness for answers grows, people outside of Holmes County and Ohio are asking questions.
“But a lot of my customers from out of state and out of town, they ask about it too. I’ve had people text me, message me on Facebook about it,” Weaver said.
The U.S. Department of State was unable to share additional details outside of what officials from Christian Aid Ministries said. In a statement over email, a spokesperson at the Department of State ensured that the welfare and safety of the U.S. citizens abroad is the department’s highest priority.
“Our Embassy team in Haiti is in frequent contact with the Haitian National Police, Christian Aid Ministries, and family members of the victims. We will continue to work with them, the Canadian government, and our interagency partners in this ongoing investigation.” the spokesperson said.
The U.S. government has sent additional personnel and resources to help the U.S. citizens involved return safely. The FBI confirmed there is nothing new to report.