Local charity helps Haitians make money selling beads

Jan Meier-Nielsen, co-founder of Missions International of America, started the bead program in the fall of 2009. Last year each of the 50 people in the program made over $400, which is more than the average Haitian income. "There are 46 women and 4 men;the beads are made from magazine pages and scrapbook paper," Mrs. Nielsen said

Nielsen says the program members use magazine pages to make coasters and crosses. They also make tote bags using pedal sewing machines. All of these products are being made by candle light in homes with dirt floors.

Though the majority of the program members are women, the most successful program member to date is a young man named Junior Abney. His creations are hot sellers when Nielsen brings them back to the United States. "Anybody could do it, especially if you take your time," Junior said.

This year 6 people have been added to the group to make scarves from T-shirts. On last week's trip 6 more people were added to make decorative letters. There are 50 people on the waiting list.

The items are sold at churches, offices and craft shows. They can be purchased on line at

The beads will also be available for purchase at the Helping Hands for Haiti festival which is scheduled for August 11 at Grace United Methodist in Perrysburg. The festival runs from 2 to 8 pm.