Triangle couple is children's lifeline in Haiti

Nick and Gwenn Mangines, Apex parents of three, are blending their family with eight orphaned and abandoned children in a unique orphanage program in Haiti.

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JACMEL — Local organizations and individuals have a footprint in Haiti and are making a difference in the efforts to build back that nation after the devastating earthquake that rocked the small Caribbean country 18 months ago.

Nick and Gwenn Mangines, of Apex, are in that group.

They work in the port city of Jacmel, south of Port-au-Prince, for a charity organization in Apex called Joy In Hope, which is a ministry of love for children.

"Joy in Hope exists to build families. One of the ways we do that is through our children's home that we have here for orphaned and abandoned children," Gwenn Mangine said. "The idea is to raise children in a family. We believe there is a lot of value in that."

The Mangines, both graduates from North Carolina State University, have lived in Jacmel for two years.

For them, moving to Haiti has been an amazing opportunity.

"For me, it took me almost 30 years to get to the point where I started realizing, 'OK, I've got to step out of my world and start looking outside Apex, outside the Triangle, outside the United States to realize there's all these different people in these situations,'" Nick Mangine said. "For me, coming here with our kids, it's to give them that … They get to see there are bigger, more important things going on than a Nintendo DS."

Their family of five is blended with eight Haitian children who are just beginning to learn what love, joy and hope are.

"Whether through the death of their parents or abandonment by their parents, many of them, multiple times, have been in many orphanages," Gwenn Mangine said. "It makes it more difficult to attach with them, more difficult to show love and to have them receive love."

The Mangines say they've seen big strides in the growth of their children and in their relationships with the people of Haiti.

It is proof, they say, that they are right where they're supposed to be.

"I definitely feel we've felt a calling," Nick Mangine said. "We've felt God has called us here, but we feel like God created us to be here. The more time we spend here, the less we enjoy leaving. We fit here better. Our entire family does."

"I think about all we've been through, all the trauma in the last year and half, and before that, the adjustment of living in this culture," Gwenn Mangine added. "As hard as it's been, it still has been very good. We've just really enjoyed being here. There is no where else we'd rather live."


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