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U.S. farmers helping Haiti

U.S. farmers helping Haiti

At least two producers are involved with causes for the country

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

At least one U.S. farmer is helping people in Haiti recover after a devastating natural disaster.

Haiti experienced an earthquake on Aug. 14 which measured 7.2. on the Richter scale. It has left thousands of people homeless, water supplies disrupted and more than 2,000 people dead.

Ken DeYoung, a corn and soybean producer from near Laurens, Iowa, saw the earthquake’s power first-hand as he was in Haiti when the quake struck.

“I’ve never felt that hopeless in my life … walking away from somebody that you know is alive under a building and there’s just no way that the people around are going to get them out,” he told the Des Moines Register after returning. “There’s no equipment, it’s all by hand, and you have slabs of concrete roofs that they have to move.”

DeYoung visited Haiti as part of GoServ Global, a non-profit he co-founded in 2010 after an earthquake in Haiti killed more than 200,000 people. The organization conducts mission trips and delivers humanitarian aid to countries like India, Peru and Uganda. In Haiti it also provides medical, dental and birthing services.

A trained pilot, the farmer plans on making more trips to the country to bring supplies and transport displaced people.

“I’ve got a plane full of medical (supplies) so I’m going back alone and then I’ll probably do some flying of people that need to get in and out of the country while I’m there,” he said.

With some of the world’s attention on Haiti, another American farmer has taken action, this time to help producers in the country.

Jack Winkel, a dairy and cash crop farmer from Missaukee County, Mich., swam 1.2 miles across Lake Missaukee to raise awareness for Hands for Haiti. The group helps provide education, nutrition, basic health care and clean water for people in the community of Tremessee.

The organization is trying to raise $10,000 to purchase water tanks for Haitian farmers.

“It’s a very difficult life and hopefully we can make it better for them,” he told 9&10 News. “If I can do that by swimming across the lake, I’m all in.”

Winkel has visited Haiti in the past and remembers watching local farmers work.

“When I woke up in the morning at 6:00, it was barely light out, and I heard noise outside,” he told 9&10 News. “It was the farmers on the side of the mountains trying to farm with hoes and pickaxes.”

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