Haiti is a place with lots of sunshine, water and hungry people, but as I discovered when I first visited in 2009—a place with almost no fish to eat. The ponds, lakes and reservoirs have been fished out by generations of poor people desperate for food.
As a kid I raised fish in my grandfather’s gravel pit ponds in Michigan and grew up nurturing a fascination for fish farming. When I started going to Haiti, I felt a deep urge to bring fish to the people there and found an expert named Mike who owned the biggest tilapia hatchery in the U.S. I asked him if he would help us build a hatchery in Haiti and together we did it. In early 2011, Mike donated 60,000 fingerlings, packed them into plastic bags filled with oxygenated water and put them on a chartered DC3 in Florida. I flew with them to Haiti and populated our new hatchery.
Today our hatchery produces hundreds of thousands of fingerlings a month. We have planted millions of tilapia all over Haiti and helped launch two new fish farms. Last week I got a report from one of the farm owners saying they produced over 53,000 fish the first year for their two hospitals, 29 schools and two orphanages. Next month the other fish farm starts harvesting and will produce 20,000 pounds of fresh fish a week.
To me, this is a “modern day loaves and fishes story.” Haiti is still a place with lots of sunshine, water and hungry people, but now there are fish swimming in many places, new jobs and some very happy kids who love to eat fish. And as you’ll see in this issue of Blessings, from hunger relief partners in the U.S. to poultry farms in Peru—Jesus is still feeding the multitudes through OBI and the compassion of partners like you.