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Voices of Haiti relief: Minnesotans pitching in to help

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Martin Elie
Martin Elie is a pharmacist living in St. Paul, MN. He moved to the US from Haiti in 1999 and most of his family is still living there. He will be heading to Haiti soon to handle the logistics of setting up a tent hospital with Angel Wings International.
MPR photo/Molly Bloom

There are numerous efforts underway in Minnesota to help deliver food supplies and medical help to earthquake survivors in Haiti. Local relief groups and citizens share describe how they are helping out with the relief effort. 

Martin Elie, St. Paul resident and pharmacist, who grew up in Haiti:

"I grew up in Haiti and left in 1999 after high school and came to the states to attend college. My parents and most of my extended family still live in Haiti. I've been living here for about two and half years and work at St. John's Hospital in Maplewood as a pharmacist. I work with two non-profit organizations: No Time for Poverty (based in Minnesota) and Angel Wings International.

We'll be working out of hospital tents in Jacmel in the southwest part of Haiti. We will be providing care ranging from immediate, critical care to post-anesthesia recovery care. My role will be working with logistics, helping with the allocation and acquisition of resources and making sure the team has what they need to do the best job that they can."

Hilena Mellese and Megan Lehnen, juniors at Burnsville High School:

Megan Lehnen and Hilena Mellese
Megan Lehnen and Hilena Mellese are students at Burnsville High School. They recently volunteered to pack meals with Feed My Starving Children at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.
MPR photo/Molly Bloom

"We helped pack meals with Feed My Starving Children and Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville. You pack chicken, vegetables, soy and rice, which have the vitamins you need, so all people have to do is add water and heat it up and eat it. We seal the bags, put them in boxes and then they're shipped off to Haiti. It's fun. You can talk to people while you do it. The whole family can do it and it's a good bonding time. We've been trying with what we have, to help."

Andrew Twiton a Lutheran Volunteer Corps volunteer with Lutheran World Relief for the year:

Andrew Twiton
Andrew Twiton is a Lutheran Volunteer Corps member for Lutheran World Relief this year. He does social media outreach for the organization and public policy and advocacy work.
MPR photo/Molly Bloom

"I work primarily with our public policy and advocacy department but I also help with our social media on Facebook and Twitter. We're at the Lutheran World Relief Warehouse today where they're packing up quilts and kits to be sent to Haiti. 

Even before we started reaching out to people, they were asking us questions through Facebook and Twitter. People were going to social media as a source of information and also as a way to find out how they could get involved. Through social media, we were able to talk directly to them and post updates on our response. 

Many people are looking for hands-on, tangible ways to respond and I've been suggesting to them that they turn to packing health kits if they want to turn their faith to action and do something with their hands. 

A friend of mine from Sugar Creek Bible Camp, Ben Larson, died in the earthquake. Ben was a Wartburg Seminary student who was there for the month to teach lay leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Haiti. Losing a friend in Haiti makes me realize and feel the size of this tragedy. 

I can't think of 200,000 people dead without thinking that I know one of those faces. I can't think about the one million people in need of food, water and shelter without thinking about the loss that they're experiencing of their homes and their friends and family."