Saturday, July 2, 2011

Meet Joseph

I want to introduce you to my new friend, Joseph.  I'm a lucky man to have met him yesterday afternoon.  Hyppolite and I are in Les Anglais trying to scout out some potential existing buildings in which to move 20 children in Pastor Ezena's orphanage.  For now Pastor Ezena has the children in an abandoned church sanctuary but conditions are horrible - space is not adequate; no toilet facilities; no bathing facilities; it's low lying with standing water so the mosquitoes (and hence malaria & typhoid) are horrible.  There is no place  for the kids to play; and if the land owner ever shows up they could evict them.  Lots of reasons to get these children somewhere safe as soon as we can.  These children have no other place to go.

So yesterday we toured the vacant home we'd like to rent - a nice 2 story home with 5 bedrooms, dining room/big kitchen, 3 toilets with sufficient septic space, a fenced in back yard for the children to play in, very close to a public well (that pastor Ezena actually had installed for the community), and...only $1,900 per year to rent it!

As I'm looking around I see lots of children there, and I asked the property owner "Whose kids are these and will they have a place to stay if we rent this house?"  The landlord responded that they were all his kids or friends of his kids and he was just letting them play here sometimes because the house was empty and they liked the back yard.  "Except this one" he said, "that's Joseph," pointing to Joseph who was busy playing by himself, kicking a piece of gravel around like a soccer ball, with all the intensity as if he was in the final game of the world cup.  I said "What's Joseph's story?  Where are his parents?"  The man began to explain to Pastor Ezena and I that he had found Joseph sleeping on the street in front of his house a couple months ago. He felt bad for him so he was permitting him to sleep in a vacant shack behind the home we'd like to rent for the orphanage.  I asked if he had eaten today and he responded "poco" (not yet).  It was 6:00 PM.  "He never know who his daddy is and his momma went to port-au-prince 6 month ago and just leave him in the street with nobody" the man explained.  I asked "How old are you Joseph?" he just shrugged his shoulders.  "He don't know how old he is; he don't even know for sure how many months since his momma go away.   But I think he got about 8 years" the landlord shared matter-of-factly.

I looked across at Pastor Ezena, who had knelt down to the child.  He looked at him and said, "Joseph, would you like to stay with me until we can find your family?"  Staring down at the ground, never making eye contact, Joseph just grinned and nodded yes.

Ok, at this point the big, strong blanc (me) had been reduced to a blubbering heap.  The ironic thing is Pastor Ezena and I had just had a conversation about how we didn't have funds to properly care for the 20 boys and girls, so we definitely do not need to add anymore children.  Then we met Joseph. 

I felt like such a hypocrite. So many times I've expressed frustration about orphanages in Haiti who accept too many kids and allow them to live in awful conditions.  So many times I've condemned men like Pastor Ezena for taking a child in, when he doesn't have the ability to provide for him.  But in this situation I couldn't say anything except for "good job" to Pastor Ezena.

Some of the kids at pastor Ezena's orphanage have parents.  We are working with them to learn a skill or trade so they can provide for their children and we can place them back into their family.   But for several others, whose parents are dead or who have been abandoned, like Joseph, it is a different story.  Unless their family can be found, they will be with Pastor Ezena until adulthood.   Pastor Ezena is their daddy now, and he is a good one.

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy...

If you would like to help with support or renting the home for these 20... or 21 children, you can contact me at  If you can't help financially, please pray for those who can, and please pray for Joseph for a couple minutes today.


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