Monday, January 7, 2008

Blackwater rescues Michigan orphanage workers from Kenya terror

How did three American charity workers escape spiraling violence in Africa when their government couldn't help them?

Blackwater Worldwide.

Michigan orphanage volunteers Brittanie and Aubrey Vander Mey and their friend Jamie Cook were in Kenya readying to care for HIV and AIDS orphans in Kimilili, a town 180 miles from Nairobi.

But post-election violence was spreading, with militants 45 miles away torching a church filled with women and children.

Yesterday the women were scheduled to return to their Michigan hometown where their local paper, the Grand Rapids Press, has the story.

"Dean Vander Mey, of Byron Township, Brittanie and Aubrey's father, said he credits their return to God's intervention and the private security firm," the paper reports.

"'My daughter (Brittanie) told me today, "Every town around us has been ripped apart,"' he said. 'Their little town was the only safe town. ... I have to attribute (their safety) to the Lord.'"

When his frightened daughters alerted him by phone of the spreading violence, he realized the women could not escape by car and renting a helicopter was impossible. He asked U.S. officials, congressmen and others for help.

"Vander Mey said he recalled relatives were friends with the family of Blackwater founder and Holland [Michigan] native Erik Prince and decided to give the company a call.

"'They had internal contacts and everything,' Vander Mey said. 'They had people who could help.'"

And help they did. Blackwater, according to Vander Mey, sent in a plane and rescued the three women and other international workers, bringing them safely to Nairobi.

"It's been a nightmare and a miracle," Vander Mey said.

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