Thiogene Ismaile of Les-Cayes, Haiti is visiting the United States for the first time this month. Ismaile works for Missions International of America, the Perrysburg-based relief organization founded by Dr. Jay Nielsen and his wife Jan Meier-Nielsen. When Dr. and Mrs. Nielsen are away from Haiti, Ismaile is in charge of their operations there. "He works all day, everyday, running our operations when we're not there; he runs that community like he is the mayor," Dr. Nielsen said.
Ismaile, who goes by his nickname "Smiley" has been amazed by his experiences on his first trip to the United States. A simple thing such as a trip to the grocery store dazzled him. "I have no words to express, when we went to the Meijer, I saw this big space I did not know what to say," Smiley said.
During his monthlong visit to Northwest Ohio Smiley has been visiting churches and schools and talking to people about how Missions International of America has transformed the small village of Savanette, Haiti from a barren dessert to a thriving community with electricity, a school, medical clinic and jobs for the locals. "One thing I can say to the people who have donated to M.I.A. is that their donations have done a great work, their donations have saved Haitian lives," Smiley said.
Doctor and Mrs. Nielsen are right now assembling a team of volunteers for their next trip which will be February 27-March 7. To learn more about the charity visit their website www.missionsinternationalofamerica.com.