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GVSU professor on Haiti: 'A lot of the support from the outside hasn’t always helped'

Posted at 8:47 PM, Oct 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 23:26:58-04

ALLENDALE, Mich. — The kidnapping of 17 people in Haiti are highlighting the dangers in the country on the group.

Some of those kidnapped are from West Michigan. FOX 17 is told they attend Dunkard Brethren Church in Hart. The church did not sponsor this mission trip. It was sponsored by Christian Aid Ministries, which is based in Ohio.

READ MORE: West Michigan missionaries kidnapped in Haiti

Grand Valley State University Honors College Prof. Peter Wampler has taken students to study abroad in Haiti for years. He hasn't been able to go back since 2019, because of COVID and dangers in the country.

But one look around his office, and you'll realize: Wampler loves Haiti. From artwork to books, to the Haitian flag, the room is covered.

Wampler also says that while he loves the country, the conflict there is often misunderstood and mishandled.

“I myself have been there on mission trips. And it’s tricky. To try to help people with the right cultural humility, in a way that respects their culture and different way of doing things, while at the same time trying to help them with a problem," Wampler said.

More so than going to Haiti to replace and "fix" the problems, Wampler says the best way to enact change is to empower Haitian people to make their own changes.

“The recent unrest and gang activity has made it really difficult for people like me to even take students to Haiti, to learn about Haiti, because I think part of healing the problems in Haiti is really everyone learning about Haiti, and really knowing the complex history of Haiti. And we can’t do that right now. Because it’s not safe to be there,” Wampler said.

He hopes one day the country will become stable enough for him and students to return to Haiti.

RELATED: Protests over security concerns shut down Haiti as search for kidnapped missionaries continues

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