Norwich group hurrying to help Haitians hit by Hurricane Matthew

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NORWICH -- A Norwich non-profit helping Haitians for years has been working non-stop the last few days.

The Haitian Health Foundation was started in the 1980s in Norwich by the Lowney family. They provide health care, schooling, housing, food, and more. There are almost 200 employees, mostly Haitian. They’re based in Jeremie and over 100 rural villages in Haiti.

Nadesha Mijoba works for the Haitian Health Foundation. She’s been living in Jeremie for a few years. Before that, she was in Connecticut. She’s concerned because Jeremie is in the direct line of where Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit.

“I don't even know how to describe the mood," Mijoba said. "It's just surprising how little people know.”

Mijoba has been warning people to evacuate to area schools and churches.

“I can’t even imagine what the devastation is going to be like,” said Mijoba. “We've been preparing the clinic as we are the only one of the major sources and at times the only source.”

“A hurricane in the US, we're worried about losing power," said executive director Marilyn Lowney in Norwich. "People in Haiti don't have that.”

She said, sadly, they have to worry about losing their homes made of tarp, cardboard, and rusted metal. They’re living day-to-day to survive.

Lowney said the people of Haiti have been through a lot these last few years. From the earthquake in 2010, to pregnant women getting the Zika virus and bearing children with birth defects. She's keeping her fingers crossed that Hurricane Matthew doesn't hit hard.

“Just when things are starting to look a little better, they get punched in the face again,” said Lowney.

"We're boarding up the windows, getting extra diesel fuel for the generator on-site, we've got over 3,000 gallons of water treated and ready to go," said Jonathan Lamare, Director of the 'Be Like Brit' Orphanage.

The orphanage was dedicated to 19 year old Britney Gengel of Massachusetts, who died in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The orphanage was her dream, now turned into a reality.

Through Skype Monday night, Lamare said the building is built to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes, but he is concerned for those who don't have adequate shelter for the incoming storm.

"Unfortunately this country lacks the infrastructure to really help people in a meaningful way so people kinda of are on their own so God willing it won't be as bad as they say, but who knows," he said. "I suspect there will be some sad news in the next couple of days."

The state department has issued a travel advisory to the region and is urging U.S. citizens to leave the area or avoid traveling to it for right now.

If you'd like to help the Haitian Health Foundation with their efforts in Haiti, click here.