Sowing Seeds of Life.
—By Jane VanWingerden
A young woman sets up her little stand: a simple blanket on the dusty ground and a crate of mangoes. Then she waits. She waits in the sweltering heat as noisy traffic from all directions whizz by: vehicles crammed with malnourished animals and people. The street where she sits is crowded with others like her, amid massive heaps of trash and crude half built structures. Then as evening approaches, whether she sells anything or not, she packs up to do it all over again the next day.
There is no thought of the future, only if she will get to feed her children that day. But she is lucky; most Haitians don’t have a trade at all. The economy is in poor condition and the Haitian government’s interest in the lower class is nonexistent. Treeless slopes and severe erosion across the entire country tell observers the obvious: Haiti has suffered greatly from environmental abuse. It has no natural resources. Such is the state for many impoverished countries.
The late Aart VanWingerden (Art and Ken VanWingerden’s father) visited many developing countries where he saw a great need to improve the agriculture production and to build local economies. He started the first “Double Harvest” agricultural project in Indonesia in 1968 and ten years later he visited Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere. It would soon be the next Double Harvest location. Many poor farmers in Haiti, like the woman selling on the street, are forced into crowded cities because production on their lands is so low and because food imports are so cheap. Other rural citizens (60-80% of Haiti’s people are farmers) come to Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, to work their days in sweat shops.
Why Start A Mission?
Aart arrived on US soil in 1948 as an immigrant from Holland with an incredible business acumen in agriculture. Everything his hands touched prospered. Each time his latest project was on its feet, he would pass it along to one of his 16 children to continue and make a profit. As a strong Christian, Aart always gave credit to God who had blessed him with his knowledge and affluence. Success led to success. More than once Aart was reminded of the Biblical parable of the rich man whose land produced abundantly; yet this rich man kept his wealth for himself in order to take the rest of life “easy”, “But God said to him, ‘you fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:20-21)
Propelled by this passage, Aart used his business and agricultural knowledge to found “Double Harvest.” As the name reflects, Double Harvest’s purpose is two-fold: to serve and minister to those in developing countries both physically and spiritually.
How It Works.
Double Harvest is designed with a business-like approach. The goal is to make the organization self-sustaining and to create jobs that give people the skills and abilities to sustain themselves. This is accomplished by employing locals and by using modern farming techniques. In addition, growing and selling locally grown food (as opposed to importing from other countries) aids the economy.
Today Double Harvest Haiti is a 200-acre mission with a 500 student school, a medical/surgical clinic, a church, a tilapia farm, a chicken farm, and of course, a greenhouse.
Double Harvest and ColorPoint.
Jane: Women’s Ministry “In early March, I went to Double Harvest Haiti for the first time to specifically minister to the women in the surrounding churches. Despite efforts around the world to empower women in developing countries, many women are still devalued and treated as inferior to men. At Double Harvest, where women are employed and appreciated for their work, their value goes much deeper than employment. They are loved and cherished by God who created them equal to men.
In keeping with Double Harvest’s mission, meeting physical and spiritual needs, the ladies were offered a food and hygiene bag after hearing the gospel message and salvation testimonies from the ladies on the ministry team.” —Jane VanWingerden
Brad: Wireless Technology “I have helped with a number of projects, but certainly the bulk of my work at DHH has been setting up wireless infrastructure and Internet connectivity. Among the MANY obstacles in Haiti, we were having lots of trouble with rats eating through network cables. So, one of the benefits of moving things to a more wireless-centric environment is there are far fewer cables to worry about. Connectivity at the DH mission property allows the visiting medical teams to access critical resources, provides better communication between the resident staff and their stateside counterparts, allows us to monitor various aspects of the work, and helps with the general morale of the staff and guests.” —Brad Slattery
Lenny, Damian, and Terry: Building Homes “Over half the Haitian people call mud, straw, and tin shacks with dirt floors their homes. Haitians do not live in their homes; they only sleep in them. They even cook outside. Most will never experience running water, a flushing toilet, electricity, or AC. Before the devastating 2010 earthquake, Lenny VanWingerden, Damian Kostellic, and Terry Wilson organized the building of “dome” homes in the villages surrounding Double Harvest. Although the homes themselves were inexpensive and could withstand harsh conditions, it was too expensive to run power for the three days required to build the homes. A second trip, which included Leroy Winchel, was made to build more homes, but this time with a different model made of concrete. Again, the Haitians were taught how to build the homes. All of these homes, along with other homes built by Double Harvest, were able to withstand the 2010 earthquake and provide adequate shelter for families.”—Lenny VanWingerden