Haiti Update - June/July 2014
by Vernon Giesbrecht
Dear friend of Double Harvest,
FISH, EYES AND WATER
I hesitate to do this to you who read this Update. However, the heading on this report reminds me of a dessert we used to nickname: “Fish Eyes”. Yes – Tapioca Pudding. Usually made with milk and eggs, some small pearl tapioca (from the cassava plant) requires overnight soaking in water. There you have it – Fish, Eyes and Water! But, what do these have to do with the work of Double Harvest?
Fish/Aquaculture – In impoverished countries like Haiti poor diets cause a variety of health and learning problems, major factors in perpetuating poverty. Alongside the farm and chicken projects, several years ago Double Harvest embarked on creating a fish and hatchery project. The protein-rich and hardy Tilapia grown in the fishery supply a nutritious food item, provide employment and a source of income for local vendors selling it in the markets. One would think that fish would be in abundance in Haiti, surrounded by water and blessed with many lakes. However, erosion (deforestation), polluting waste run-off, a poor, inefficient fishing industry, and depleted lakes due to generations of over-fishing have exacerbated the short supply. The Fish Project is designed to accommodate the highest concentration of fish per gallon of water. A 24-hour filtration system removes solids and strips harmful gasses, the waste water being used as fertilizer for the farm vegetables. As funding is received, solar panels will replace the expensive electricity supplied by the generator. The goal is to harvest 18,000 pounds of fish per month, providing the nutrition so desperately needed in Haiti.
Eyes – The tropical sun can have damaging effects on one’s eyes when not protected. Cataracts among adults and even children born with the disease are all too common in Haiti. For a number of years, we have partnered with an organization that conducts an Eye Clinic in our Medical Clinic. Besides the regular eye exams and supply of prescription glasses and sunglasses, recently an eye surgeon from the U.S. performed 32 cataract surgeries on both adults and children. New sight, a richer life and, in the case of the children, the opportunity to go to school, gave hope to these patients. Also, each received a Creole New Testament for new “spiritual vision”!
Water – Water is life, especially pure water! People, plants and animals…and fish depend on it. The World Health Organization reports that 80% of all sickness is attributable to unsafe drinking water. Haiti is no exception; 50% of rural and urban areas have no access to clean water. Our project is blessed with wells drilled deep enough to produce pure, drinkable water from a large aquifer. These supply drip irrigation to the agricultural project. But they also provide potable water for all employees, students, staff and visiting teams…and to five villages nearby, 420,000 gal/week – almost 22 million gal/year! Water-borne illnesses have been cut in half at our Clinic!