Even before the January earthquake in Haiti there were 380,000 orphans needing homes. After the earthquake’s devastation there may be a million. Many orphanages were destroyed in the earthquake, and children are sleeping in the open.
You may not be able to adopt a child from Haiti, but you can sponsor one. You can personally help that child to heal, to learn, to be safe, fed and educated. It doesn’t cost thousands of dollars, and you don’t have to wait three years.
You see, only 9 miles from Port au Prince, a complex including a large clinic, a 200 acre farm, and a Christian school for 480 kids is up and running, offering hope and help to Haitian orphans and families, and a sponsor-a-child program. The concept at Double Harvest has always been self sustenance, so the complex was already equipped to generate its own electricity, to grow and prepare its own food, to provide water from its own wells and to offer medical procedures and surgeries for the sick and injured at its own clinic. By the grace of God, Double Harvest in Croix des Bouquets, although so close to Port au Prince, was untouched and unharmed in the earthquake that devastated outlying villages all around it.
John Van Wingerden and five of his brothers from Ohio rented a jet, flew into the Santiago airport in the Dominican Republic, and then got on a bus and made the eight hour trek to Double Harvest. They had no way to know what they would find but to their astonishment, Double Harvest was intact, with a traumatized staff and children. The men went to work restoring normalcy, and preparing Double Harvest to immediately begin providing food, water, shelter and medical care for thousands devastated by the earthquake. By Saturday, the Double Harvest team was feeding more than 3,000 people during the day in a kitchen/cafeteria set up to feed only 300. The tilapia farm had just been finished, and 40,000 fish were ready to be eaten before supplies even arrived — a modern day story of the loaves and the fishes.
The Double Harvest team also gave out rice, eggs and fish to the five surrounding villages. They began building “tent” cities for displaced Haitian families from nearby villages that were demolished. The clinic reopened, and they began setting up additional “tent” hospitals. They had 40 doctors working 24/7 round the clock during this emergency, seeing as many as 700 patients in one day. The hardest moments for John Van Wingerden were seeing kids, 10, 11 and 12 years old, being brought in to have arms and legs amputated to save their lives. See a gallery of photos showing the tent cities, the outdoor clinics, and facilities of Double Harvest.
In a radio interview, John says “Haiti is everything you saw in the news. But what you can’t do is feel the people.” He emphasizes the resilience, strength and character of the Haitian people. He talks about their strong family values, their generosity, they way they take care of each other, their respect and concern for the elderly and infirm. He explains that athough the images seen in the news seem to show chaos, what we are really seeing is desperation. Parents who have lost everything trying to find food for their children. “The Haitian people will come through this, they will survive. The real test,” he says, “is on the rest of the world,” referring to our willingness to share our abundance.Hear the full radio interview here.
Van Wingerden said they had been back and forth to the airport bringing in food and medical supplies and fuel. On one trip they loaded up the truck with hundreds of pounds of beans and rice and food and took the long trip back. They had just pulled in the complex when they saw a woman, an American, who runs an orphanage with about 120 kids. Her entire building had collapsed and she lost 8 of her kids. She had spent the whole day trying to get food for the remaining children. “In last desperation she came to our project to ask if we had anything to spare. We had just pulled in and there she was. We had the privilege of giving her half of our provisions.” Her relief and gratitude was immeasurable.
Van Wingerden said “If you ever wanted to be proud to be an American..” you ought to have been on the tarmac with them seeing these planes come in one after another. Sixty per cent of them were American planes. “America has a big heart. I was blown away by the generosity of the American people.” He said he would just encourage everyone to keep giving. Don’t stop now. “Give through any good charity, and we’ll gladly accept your help at Double Harvest.” “The Haitian people don’t need our pity. They need our actions.”
Before the earthquake, AC writer Robert Adair sponsored a little girl in Haiti through Double Harvest, for $30 a month. Now he is giving even more. You and I can do that too. We can make sure one Haitian child has food, clothing, safe shelter, and schooling. By sponsoring a girl or boy, we are giving them a future, training them to become self sustaining, and offering our love. And it won’t cost thousands of dollars. It’s only $30 a month. Click here to find out how.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Footnote: Double Harvest was founded by Christian businessman Aart Van Wingerden, now deceased, in 1981 in Haiti in an effort to establish an agricultural project to help the local residents live and prosper independently. His sixteen children (including John Van Wingerden) are involved in Double Harvest projects in Africa, Ethiopia, Chad and Yemen as well.
NBC video of Double Harvest, a request for help from the Somers family.