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Reaching Out

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— April 29, 2017

Reaching Out

  • From vitamin donations abroad to an eye-opening tour at
  • home, Nature’s Plus extends a helping hand to others.
pocket
Reaching Out

Helping Haitian Youngsters: Life isn’t always easy in Haiti, where nearly two-thirds of the population live on less than two US dollars a day. But a number of charitable organizations maintain operations in the island nation. These groups include the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, which runs orphanages in the capital city of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere in Haiti. Nature’s Plus was able to assist in the group’s efforts on a recent visit to the orphanages by Sister Mary Rinaldi, FMA, of the Sisters’ Eastern Province headquartered in North Haledon, New Jersey. Rinaldi was accompanied on her trip by Deborah Rohde and her daughter, Mackenzie, who live in nearby Franklin Lakes. Deborah’s husband, Rodger, is a friend and business associate of Jim Gibbons, president of Nature’s Plus. “I received a call from Rodger, who told me what his wife and daughter were involved in,” says Gibbons, “and I jumped at the opportunity to help.” As a result, among the more than 200 pounds of supplies delivered by Rinaldi and the Rohdes (along with Rinaldi’s great-niece, Kaylee Jeter, of Tallahassee, Florida) were 100 large bottles of Nature’s Plus vitamins, including Power Teen and Animal Parade, to help promote greater well-being among the home’s young residents. The Salesian Sisters (Salesiansisters.org) have run schools in Haiti since 1935. Since then, the group has expanded its work to include 10 main educational centers and more than 200 schools in a country where nearly 55% of the population is under age 25. The need is great: According to World Bank statistics, 50% of all Haitian children do not attend school. The primary 10 centers each have a number of primary and secondary schools, vocational training centers and other programs for street children and youth in need. As a result, according to the Sisters’ website, “Salesian missionaries in Haiti are the largest source of education outside of the Haitian government, and their programs serve more than 25,000 Haitian children.” In addition, the Salesian Sisters are involved in disaster relief—Hurricane Matthew, an especially destructive storm, hit Haiti in September 2016—as well as initiatives involving clean water, health improvement, and sports programs. Neither Mackenzie nor Kaylee understood the Haitian language of Creole, but it didn’t matter. “Our lovely Americans chose to use their ‘first’ language, love, which was understood by all,” observes Rinaldi. “I was blown away at the instant communication between the orphans and the visitors!” Mackenzie and Kaylee were also moved by their trip to Haiti. “The word ‘orphan’ didn’t really seem so relevant,” says Mackenzie. “The girls seemed to be a family “Not only were the Salesian Sisters so obviously caring, the girls themselves had a dignity and elegance in everything they did, whether brushing each other’s hair or helping each other fold the blankets on their beds before saying their evening prayers. They possess a poise I wish I had,” Mackenzie notes. Kaylee also felt the warmth of the home’s residents. “All the girls engulfed me in sweet hugs and kisses,”

A phone call led to the donation of Nature’s Plus vitamins to an orphanage for girls in Haiti

she says. “I honestly believe they made me happier than I made them.” Kaylee adds that it didn’t “even hit me until I came back home that these girls do not have families to go home to. But the Salesian Sisters are there, providing and teaching them about the importance of life.” Kaylee adds that her Haitian trip “has changed my life and how I see the world.” Mackenzie says that she had always been told about all the blessings in her life—a family, a home, an education—but “it never really stuck in my head as to how true that statement is until I had this Haiti experience. I am overwhelmingly grateful.” For Mackenzie, the trip had another positive aspect. “I now have 50 beautiful new ‘sisters’ in my family!”

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