by Rev. Vernon Giesbrecht
Dear friend of Double Harvest:
What do Haiti and Southern Sudan have in common? While both are impoverished countries, Double Harvest also has projects in each of the countries. In Haiti, however, the farm, fish and chicken projects, school and medical clinic (An Eye Care Team and ENT Surgical Team visited last month) are mature and established, while the agricultural project in Southern Sudan is just beginning. If you’ve visited our website (see below), you’ll realize that we are represented in other countries as well. Most of our N.A. office activities focus on our Haiti project, but encouraging developments are occurring in East Africa too, specifically the war-torn country of Sudan.
Shortly after the start of the Haiti project, in 1987 Aart Van Wingerden, our founder, began an agricultural effort in Ethiopia in cooperation with two mission organizations and a local church denomination. Together with the support of friends in Holland, Genesis Farms has since grown to be a large, self-supporting agricultural project and dairy and chicken operation. In turn, the spiritual and compassion ministries of the partnering church have greatly benefitted from their support.
Over the past number of years, visits to Africa by board members have included Ethiopia’s neighbor to the west - Sudan. “Southern Sudan - Dreary, desolate and destitute, the last stop before arriving at the abyss!” Despite this reality, it was agreed, this was Double Harvest’s next mission destination. After decades of civil war between the north and the south, a 2005 precarious, peace agreement culminated in a January, 2011 referendum on independence for Southern Sudan. In this tentative political climate, a disappointing beginning with our project has recently resulted in Double Harvest identifying a trusted national General Manager (God’s orchestration), negotiating a 250 acre land lease three miles from Juba, the capital (not an easy feat), and registering Genesis South Sudan Farms, LLC! With a container of supplies and equipment shipped via the Nile River from Ethiopia, the challenging work of establishing a productive agricultural project has begun. Presently, most produce is imported from Kenya and Uganda at grossly inflated prices for the local population. We hope to infuse affordable, quality produce into the economy, provide training in best practices, and offer employment in this distressed part of the world. Already connections are being made with local Christian organizations and churches, ensuring that our mission of a “double harvest” occurs. The pathway to “Sowing Seeds of Life” in Southern Sudan has begun!