September 2012 Newsletter
by Rev. Vernon Giesbrecht
Dear friend of Double Harvest,
ISAAC – Last month we watched Tropical Storm Isaac churn its way across the Caribbean and later upgrade to a hurricane. News headlines focused on the potential impact on the Republican National Convention and New Orleans. The RNC weathered the storm well while New Orleans, Louisiana and neighboring states experienced massive flooding and wind damage, in some areas rivaling the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Our hearts go out to those affected. Recovery will be slow but resources are available.
HAITI – What didn’t receive media attention was the destruction Isaac wrecked on Haiti earlier. Thousands of fragile shelters in the still existing tent cities – plastic, nylon, sheets of wood or light metal – were destroyed, simply washed away. Already living in misery, some estimate that 50% of the 300,000 lost their “temporary housing”, home for them since the earthquake of January, 2010. The country lost 24 people through flood waters, electrocutions or mudslides, but many more will likely die from secondary effects such as cholera and hunger, having lost their slim margin of sustenance. Some areas will never recover and resources are meager to non-existent.
REFORESTATION – Double Harvest has taken a long-term perspective on the critical needs of Haiti. Our Reforestation Project is one example. The need to save Haiti’s forests is obvious to anyone who flies over the country and sees the almost completely denuded mountainous landscape. In 1925, 60% of the country was forested. Today – 2%! Most of it lost because of indiscriminate logging and cutting down of trees to make charcoal, the principal source of cooking fuel. With no trees to stabilize the soil, even modest storms trigger deadly floods and mudslides. Beyond the major grains and vegetables grown on our 200 acre project, there is capacity for two million tree seedlings! We are praying that the government and other organizations will make more reforestation programs a priority to address this environmental but also a human tragedy.
WATER – Another example is our Water Project. Here’s a sad statistic: Every 20 seconds a child dies from lack of clean drinking water, particularly in poor developing countries! Haiti is no exception. We are blessed with three wells on our project which, along with diverted river water, supply our agricultural project’s irrigation needs. Dug deep, the wells provide clean, potable water, a great blessing for our workers, teachers, students and visiting teams. Blessings are given to share, however. We also provide water to five villages nearby. Typically piped to water towers, Double Harvest supplies 420,000 gal/week to these villagers – almost 22 million gal/year! Patients with water-borne illnesses appearing at our Clinic have been reduced by half. You have helped us meet these critical needs!