While ports have been jammed as international aid flows into Haiti, the Double Harvest Christian mission the Van Wingerden family founded in 1981 that is only eight miles from Port-au-Prince has immediately begun providing food, water, shelter and medical care for thousands devastated by last week’s earthquake.
On Sunday, Abe Van Wingerden of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C., provided this update on the relief efforts:
– The Double Harvest team fed more than 3,000 people during the day Saturday in a kitchen/cafeteria that is set up to feed only 300. The tilapia farm has been a miracle as they await additional supplies. One fish can feed three people and they have more than 40,000 fish in the tilapia farm ready to eat, which was just built and finished in the last few months.
– The Double Harvest team also gave out rice, eggs and fish to the five surrounding villages as hunger is the biggest need at this time.
– Organization of volunteers has been outstanding and the outpouring has been tremendous. “We have a ton of folks wanting to help. We have heard from the U.S. military that there are too many non-medical people trying to come in and it is hindering the medical efforts. If you hear of a non-medical person who is thinking of going to Haiti, please ask them to wait. Food is in tight supply and we need to conserve those kinds of resources by staying away unless you are a medical person.”
– A number of planes and jets have been donated in Miami and in the Dominican Republic to help get needed resources and people to Haiti.
– The biggest issue at this point is still the fuel shortage and funding. Fuel is needed to keep fresh water pumping and run the surgical facility. “The fuel is expensive and the fuel issue becomes even more frustrating when you know that we have 25-30 surgeons, anesthetists and nurses ready and waiting to go.”
Abe’s uncles John, Joe, Arie, Nick and cousin, Joey, all arrived in Haiti on Friday. They also had 20 medical students with them to take injured Haitians back to Double Harvest from the city. Abe’s father Tom, who died just before Christmas last month, spent a week each month in Haiti for the last few years helping build many of the resources begun by his father that are being used in the relief effort this week. Tom’s family was originally scheduled to be in Haiti last week and would have been staying at one of the hotels that collapsed.
As soon as the earthquake hit, John’s son David of Express Seed and Green Circle Growers recalls, “When John, Bob, Nick, Joe and Arie were discussing if they should go down to Haiti, one of them said, “If Tom were here, he would already be there, by boat, by helicopter, or by swimming! Why are we waiting?!”
More than $100,000 was raised for Double Harvest in the weeks following Tom’s funeral and an additional $100,000 since the earthquake struck. “We have raised over $200,000 so far, but we need more with our goal being $1 million for more than just relief, but rather long-term rebuilding and expansion of the work that had already begun in Haiti before the devastation,” Abe says.
All the funds donated through Double Harvest for the Disaster Relief project will go directly to the victims of the earthquake, Double Harvest is already using the funds to buy 1)fuel for transport of materials to be distributed and to pull pure water from the wells on location, 2)food to feed the hungry, 3) medical supplies and 4) medical care. Long-term friends of Double harvest have already built a general fund to take care of administrative duties.
To make a donation to support this relief effort, go to Doubleharvest.org, which now has PayPal processing capabilities or send a check to:
Tom Van Wingerden Memorial Fund
55 South Main Street
Oberlin, OH 44074
Founded in 1981 by Aart Van Wingerden, Operation Double Harvest began in Haiti with the purpose of establishing an agricultural project that would help people help themselves by teaching them to grow food while instilling a Christian work ethic. His vision was to “sow seeds of life” in an impoverished situation. The 200-acre project consists of a farm, school, medical/surgical clinic, a tilapia farm, and a housing project. The facilities were built to last with high quality construction and access to fresh water, but no one envisioned responding to a natural disaster of this magnitude. Aart’s 16 children have all had a hand in building Double Harvest and sustaining it over the last 29 years.
“By the sheer grace of God, all of Double Harvest’s buildings remained intact during the earthquake, and they have quickly turned into a makeshift relief center helping thousands of Haitians,” Abe says. “Relief efforts from all over the world have been spotty in getting executed but Double Harvest is established, on the ground already, and already helping to repair, rebuild and restore the people of Haiti.”