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Green Bay's "Friends of Haiti" Improving Health of Villagers

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Photo: Video by nbc26.com

Green Bay's "Friends of Haiti" Improving Health of Villagers

By Stacy Engebretson. CREATED Aug 26, 2014

Green Bay, WI -- Hunger, disease and lack of education. Life in Haiti is anything but easy.

"People have described Haiti as a nightmare gone really bad," said Linda Wielgus.

Wielgus is the Friends of Haiti Board Chairwoman. Green Bay's involvement with the non-profit organization began in 2000 when St. Philip the Apostle Parish was paired with St. Anne Parish of Thomazeau, Haiti.

Fast forward 14 years, and you'll find dozens of volunteers counting pills on a Tuesday night in Green Bay. They're packing up antacids, Tylenol and medications to control chronic conditions. They will send the drugs with local doctors who set up free clinics for the poor in Haitian villages.

"We see women there that look like they're nine months pregnant and it's just fibroids, and then they have a hysterectomy and it certainly improves the quality of their life," said retired registered nurse, Ellie Thomas.

Dr. Dave Thompson of De Pere also travels to Haiti to provide no cost dental care. 

"We're all doing it with one common goal; to help the people," explains Thomas.

During the medical missions, doctors noticed a problem with waterborne illnesses. 

Wielgus says, "The people who did go down to the spring, washed their clothes, took a bath and the animals got a drink and did their business. There was a lot of bacteria in that water."

So Friends of Haiti paid for a pump to send water from the spring 200 feet up the mountain. They also teach villagers how to harvest water.

"We put up the rain gutters and then it goes into the cistern," Wielgus explained. 

The group distributes sawyer water filters, so no one gets sick.

"It's really just a plastic bucket with a hose with a little filter at the end."  

UV light purification systems are also in place to prevent cholera outbreaks.

"To see the difference in the health is really the most important thing," said Wielgus. 

The improvements couldn't happen without the dedication of volunteers in Northeast Wisconsin.

Thomas says, "We've got such generous people here with a good heart."

They're donating their time and money to make sure the world's poorest people aren't forgotten.

Friends of Haiti's next mission is in October. More than 60 volunteers from six states will offer free clinics in six villages.

Click here for more information about Friends of Haiti and how you can donate to the cause.