Christian Aid Ministries, the charity whose workers were kidnapped in Haiti on Saturday, has a long history of working in the Caribbean nation.
Based in Ohio and founded in 1981, the group has worked in Haiti for at least 15 years, according to its website. The organization distributes food and clothing, funds schools, teaches farming methods and helps with emergency relief. In 2020, it had operations in more than 130 countries and territories.
The group was founded by Amish and Mennonites, Christian sects that are known for their conservative dress and avoidance of many modern technologies. In Pennsylvania, where the first Amish in America arrived in the 1800s, many live in isolated rural communities that focus on farming and agriculture.
CAM says it “strives to be a trustworthy and efficient channel for Amish, Mennonite, and other conservative Anabaptist groups and individuals to minister to physical and spiritual needs around the world.” Amish and Mennonite communities throughout the United States regularly hold fund-raisers for Haiti, selling food, blankets and other goods they make.
In Haiti, CAM runs a “sponsor-a-child” program, which states that a donation of $65 a month can allow five students to go to school. Donations fund the purchase of textbooks and allow each child to get one hot meal a day. That program helps more than 9,000 students in 52 schools in Haiti, according to the group’s website.
Their work has not gone without controversy in Haiti, where the government depends on international aid and charity to provide services it can’t. Last year it announced a settlement to a civil suit over allegations that a former employee molested boys while working in Haiti and said that it had provided $420,000 in assistance to victims.
The organization pulled out its American staff in 2019 for about nine months. It sent back staff after the political situation improved in 2020, according to the annual report.