Over the past three decades, Father Joseph has been providing rural Haitians with the motivation and tools they need to create wealth in their communities and to lift themselves out of poverty. He is best known as the founder of Fonkoze, Haiti’s largest micro-finance institution with 45 branches, over 200,000 depositors, 62,000 loans in the hands of the poor, and millions in assets.
But even before the birth and miraculous growth of Fonkoze, Father Joseph was busy in the beloved community of his birth – Fondwa Haiti. In 1988, Father Joseph founded the Peasant Association of Fondwa (APF Haiti) which boasts a primary and secondary school serving some 700 students, an orphanage, a community radio station, renewable energy, water purification, reforestation and agricultural programs and so much more. And at the 200th anniversary of Haiti’s independence, APF Haiti established the University of Fondwa (UNIF), Haiti’s only accredited rural university.
Facing what others would consider insurmountable odds, whether economic, political or environmental—including the devastating earthquake of 2010, whose epicenter was very close to Fondwa—he, together with a growing team of collaborators, has persevered, turning challenge and struggle into progress and victory.
One of the unique characteristics of Father Joseph’s various undertakings has been the grassroots nature of the impulse and related processes. Far from the often paternalistic approach taken by well-meaning NGOs, these ventures have blossomed from the ground up: undertakings by and for the very people whose lives are now being transformed.
Over the past three decades, much assistance has flowed, whether in the form of human or financial resources, from well beyond Haiti including, of course, the United States.
Now, for the first time, resources are fast coalescing to give significant lift to these Haitian enterprises. An unprecedented number of creative individuals and organizations have recently stepped forward, committing their time and resources. Two new 501(c)3 entities with respective boards have been established to allow US donors to receive full charitable deductions for contributing to an array of programs. A powerful new documentary entitled ‘Father Joseph’ has been completed, is now making the film festival circuit and will be commercially released in late August. Significant efforts are now in motion to raise adequate funds that will help to ensure the vital and ongoing success of these important grassroots endeavors which hold significant transformative promise for all of Haiti.
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