Lions Tight End Hakeem Valles Taken Hostage at Gunpoint in Haiti

Hakeem Valles (born November 23, 1992), the American football tight end for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL) will never forget his missionary trip to Haiti. He was held hostage at gunpoint and almost murdered in Haiti in 2015. Hakeem's grandfather, Paul Jean Marie Jizrel Benoni Marcel Valles, is a Haitian who immigrated to the U.S in 1960's. Hakeem grew up on stories from Grandpa about how life was back in the homeland. He always wanted to go. Once, he did earlier before the 2015 trip, on a cruise with Royal Caribbean. But then he felt disappointed. Where he landed was a property of the cruise line that discourages local visitors. There were 12-foot walls to keep them out. His trip to his wonderland was unsuccessful, because the place he visited was fake Haiti, never close to the root of his dream.

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However, the opportunity came again in 2015. He took part in a missionary program called "All Hands Together", visiting Haiti. It was his vacation time before the start of his graduate program. In Haiti, Valles spent almost a week dispensing medical supplies in rural areas surrounding Port-au-Prince-- working at a school, orphanage, or setting up a clinic in a mountaintop village, and like that. Although, Valles understood the importance of the work, but the task was difficult. One of their cars got stolen, medical supplies were often plundered.

The team of about 15 people was stationed in a small house. On a rainy night, sometime after 2 am, when they were playing cards on a table, Valles heard the first gun shot. About half a dozen men raided the compound with guns and knives. They were screaming in Haitian Creole, a language with roots in French, Portuguese, Spanish, English, Taino, and various West African tongues which Valles doesn't understand. The men flipped over the table and opened fire and began robbing them of phones, computers, medical supplies, batteries, flashlights, everything. Punched one woman on the face and attempted to rape another. They snatched one shawl from one woman and rip it into pieces and begin tying up prisoners blindfolded like hogs. All Valles could hear was screaming and screaming and sound of bullets all around.

He started screaming 'missionary', 'missionary' while he was trying to dodge bullets on the ground; however, nobody paid any heed to his shout. He was just sitting on the ground with his hands tied to his feet. He peed his pants. He thought he was going to die. Someone called the police, but they never came as they lack the resources to tackle such serious criminal incidents. Suddenly, about 45 minutes later, there was some more gunfire from the street outside. The attackers thought they were under siege and left.

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