TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - One couple made a decision to be home for the holidays. And for them, it could have been a life-saving one.
Ed and Brenda Buell have been in the Democratic Republic of Congo since May. The missionary couple's supporting church is in Terre Haute.
And they're back here now following what could be an outbreak of violence.
They say even though they've lived there for so long, it's difficult to see how these people survive.
"The conditions in the country are very, very bad. The road system, after we're there for a few days, we wish we had a chiropractor to work on us. It's hard to explain how the people survive. We live there among them and it's hard for us to comprehend. They probably average somewhere around 2 to 3 dollars a day per family," said Ed.
The Buells help the people there build small businesses to support their families.
Brenda works with abused women and rape survivors. She said this many times happens in front of their own children and husbands.
"The kids have been horribly traumatized. Their whole thing is to destroy the family and destroy the tribe," said Brenda.
But 2 weeks ago, on Thanksgiving, the Buells made the decision to flee Congo for their own safety.
"Tuesday before Thanksgiving, we were told the M23, the name of this rebel group, were coming from the south to take the city," said Brenda.
"And we just felt like, you never know how fast things are going to happen, how quickly you can be in a bad situation, so we felt it was probably best for us to get out," said Ed.
"It was a bit frightening the last two nights that we were there, after they closed the border. You know you can't get out, and you don't know if the rebels are coming or not," said Brenda.
Civil war started in that region 16 years ago to establish a new government. Rebel groups spread to the eastern portion of Congo where they terrorize the small villages.
Tens of thousands of people fled recent rebel attacks.
But the Buells are more concerned about the friends they've left behind in the war-torn nation.
"It's very, very sad. It's pretty traumatic. The actual leaving is fairly traumatic," said Brenda.
This makes them anxious to return and help the small town that's become their home.
The Buells plan to return to Congo in February.
If you would like to donate to their cause or trip, you can send it to ACM International, PO Box 513, Riley, Indiana, 47871.
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