Diaspora

Northwest Ohio mission helping Haiti after earthquake – WTOL

MAUMEE, Ohio — As the world’s eyes are now back on Haiti after another major earthquake, a northwest Ohio group has been focused on helping a part of the country for nearly 20 years.
Jan and Jay Nielsen started Missions International of America back in 2003. So when they heard about the latest earthquake to hit the mainland Saturday, they were worried.
“We were actually setting up our tent this morning when we got the call,” said Jan Nielsen.
The Nielsens say the earthquake hit about 30 minutes from where their group works in the Savanette region.
“Hit in a rural area and it was 20 miles from the nearest big metropolitan area,” said Dr. Jay Nielsen. “Nonetheless, we don’t know how many buildings will be down. It could be hundreds or thousands.”
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The death toll already in the hundreds as of Saturday night will certainly continue to rise.
The Nielsens have been working since 2003 to improve the lives of people in the Savanette region…which when translated to English means “dry place.”
“There was no school there at all, no clean water,” said Jan Nielsen. “It was a really desolate place.”
Now 18 years later, the Nielsens have created opportunity and employment; opening a school, a medical clinic, a sewing business, and soon, a state-of-the-art surgical center for American doctors to come and use.
“The people have jobs, you can see the difference in their houses,” said Jan Nielsen. “You can see the difference in their demeanor. Everything has changed about Savanette. It’s not a tough place anymore like they told us it was.”
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The Nielsens were at the Maumee Street Fair on Saturday. Their circle of life program pays over 50 Haitian women to create jewelry from recycled paper. All of the items are sold here and go directly back to these women. 
“If they buy a $5 bracelet, it is not $5 to them,” said Jan Nielsen. “It is so much more to a woman in Haiti. And they won’t go buy something frivolous, they will buy food for their family.”
This latest earthquake is another setback for the small island nation but the Nielsens say the country is on the up and up and this is just another speed bump.
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