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Grand Rapids Church Continues Help in Haiti | News

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Grand Rapids Church Continues Help in Haiti

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (WZZM) -- Thursday is the second anniversary of the earthquake that devastated Haiti, killing more than 300,000 people. When that earthquake hit two years ago it was one of the worst natural disasters many of us had ever seen. People around the world scrambled to help provide relief efforts and some, like a group from Holy Spirit Church in Grand Rapids, continue their mission to help.

"I can tell you it probably benefits me more than it does Haitian people just to have perspective on what the world is like, not just my community, not just Grand Rapids or the United States. To see how some people live and then come home really helps me to appreciate the things I have in my life," said Mike Petrella who is traveling with a group of about two dozen people on their way to Haiti to set up a clinic and provide other help.

This is Petrealla's fourth trip since the earthquake so he has a rare perspective on the progress being made there.

"The first time was right after the earthquake so I liken it to a war zone, it was horrific. Two years later it is still bad but it is getting better. Slowly it is progressing," he said. "A lot of the clean up is by hand so you have a house that fell down, we are moving it brick by brick. You are lucky if you have a friend that can help you with some of those things. The progress is there. It is my understanding there is a new government in place since the middle of last year. When I was there last October you saw some things there. Some street building was taking place. There is a functional traffic light in the city of Port au Prince which was amazing to see."

Petrealla says one thing he is wants to see is if the overwhelming amount of trash in the streets are gone.

"You had complete streets that are full of trash. Now I'm anxious to see what it looks like this time because we saw some garbage trucks and dumpsters that looked like it was just starting to take place," he said.

Petrella's group consists of about two dozen people, about 17 or 18 Americans and a few interpreters. Most are doctors, dentists and other medical personnel. He says when the set up their clinic it doesn't take long for people to come.

"When the people in the surrounding town or area know, some of them walk 3 or 4 hours to get there when they know there is going to be a doctor in the area to see, which is quite remarkable," he said. "That allows us to set up a clinic and they can come in and anything for something small to something huge"

He says the group will help as many people as they can.