Traverse City Record-Eagle

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December 15, 2013

Generous donations will help family rebuild

EMPIRE — Christy Wiesen won’t soon forget the generosity of strangers who’ve stepped forward with donations to help her rebuild her family’s home in Medellin, Philippines.

Wiesen, 25, made a plea for help in early November after her childhood home was destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan. Wiesen, a waitress who married her husband Tom and moved from the Philippines to his hometown in northern Michigan in 2011, was a world away from her family and without the resources to help them.

“It’s just amazing, I feel so blessed,” Wiesen said. “I’m in a different country and I don’t know these people. I just cried, I just cried from happiness. There are strangers out there that are very, very generous and happy to help.”

In less than a month, friends and strangers alike sent Wiesen about $3,400 in donations meant to help her family build a new house. Her parents and seven siblings lived in a small hut on land they do not own near a sugar cane farm. She plans to help them find a small piece of land of their own where they can build a more permanent home.

Since the storm, Wiesen sent money from her own pocket to help support her family until rebuilding efforts reach them. Meanwhile, they live in tarp tents and buy what food is available to supplement the small amount of food aid they get.

School has resumed in makeshift classrooms and neighbors have begun the process of cleaning up after the storm that leveled nearly everything in its path.

“My plan is, I’ve been helping my family with my own expense,” she said. “When things get back to normal, I will use that money to help them rebuild.”

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