Wootrod

Wootrod

Hearts with Haiti and the St. Joseph Family are committed to ensuring that the young men who graduate from the Family are supported in their transition into independence. The Timoun Jodi Granmoun Demen (“Children Today, Adults Tomorrow”) program provides these young men with the career counseling and job skills training needed to make this transition smoothly and successfully. Wootrod Joly is a participant in the TJGD program.

My name is wootrod. I am 21 years of age. I recently graduated from St. Joseph’s Home. I am now living at a rental apartment. I’m still going to school. Actually this is my last year in High School, I am looking forward to this school year and also the outcome.

My favorite subjects in school are Physics, and Math, so this school year I am really going to make the effort to have good grades, to be able to move to the next level. The last year of High School is not easy, but I pray that I will make it.

As hobbies, I love to play the guitar and sing. I also take the time to read more, because people do get knowledge through reading, it is an important thing to do. I also like to watch TV.

My big dream for the future is for one day to be a lawyer. But I am also interested in other things such as Accounting. My music career and so on.

I’m excited and thrilled to be able to have a home, an apartment of my own to stay in. To me it is a very big deal, especially when you are living in a country where there’s no job opportunities and the government aid is pretty much down to zero on a scale. To me it’s a blessing.  I thank God for the SJF family for all the support they provided for me in my life. Thank you.

 

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Transitioning into independence

Transitioning into independence

In 2013, the World Bank reported an unemployment rate in Haiti of 7% (the unemployment rate of youth 15-24 is over 17%). At first glance, the statistic doesn’t seem all that bad – especially given a 5.5% unemployment rate in the U.S. However, consider that over two-thirds of workers do not have formal employment. Without proper education and training (only about half of all Haitians are literate), most Haitians are forced to choose between an unreliable income and deplorable, unsafe working conditions. And because the country’s challenge is a shortage of skilled labor, opportunities for sound, reliable employment are only available to those with proper training and education.

The St. Joseph Family has always emphasized a quality education as a cornerstone of the ministry, providing tutors and individual attention so that each child can grow into their fullest potential. And now, St. Joseph’s Home for Boys is embarking on building the next logical step to facilitate the transition from St. Joe’s to sustainable employment and independent living.

Timoun Jodi Granmoun Demen (“Children Today, Adults Tomorrow”) provides each young man at St. Joseph’s with personalized career counseling and a transition plan for moving toward financial independence. Together, the boys and their mentors will identify a vocational path and the steps necessary for achieving their goal. Regular one-on-one meetings will ensure progress is being met and identify any necessary course adjustments.

Wootrod, Sonson, and Emmanuel have already begun their journey toward adulthood and are the first participants in the program. We are excited to see what the future holds for them, but we need your support to provide them with a future full of possibilities! Mèsi anpil!

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Resurrection Living

Resurrection Living

In this story, Shelley Wiley, one of the founders of Hearts with Haiti, shares how the family at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys represents “resurrection living.” This is a family who – in many ways – is like any other. There are arguments, laughter, eye-rolling, and complaints about chores. But what has always set the SJF apart is their posture of genuine hopefulness and gratitude and the firm belief that, with God, all things are possible. 

In January of 1997 I took my first trip to Haiti and stayed at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys – this was in the days before the chapel and roof were complete. It was also before there was a pump system for water in the house, so a daily chore for the boys was hauling 5-gallon buckets of water to all of the bathrooms.

The house was full, with boys ranging in age from about 5 to 20, along with assorted guests. Laughter would ring out when guests and boys played games, or when the Sunday morning darts tournament was underway.

To this day, though, I still believe that what captured my heart was the evening gathering of the boys and Michael, to which guests were always invited. Any of you who have visited will probably have your own memories of “Bravos.” During bravos, boys give a “bravo” to others for things they did that were kind or for assistance given or even simply for being a friend. Bravos were followed by family discussion of random issues that needed to be addressed, such as missing school books or upcoming field trips. Last, the family would then turn to evening devotions and prayers.

During the prayers, boys would pour out their prayers of confession, owning up to ways in which they were not being who they could be. There were also prayers of thanksgiving for the life and resurrection and hope that becoming part of St. Joseph’s brought them.

They all understood, even the youngest, that their lives had changed from suffering to resurrection living.

Like all families and homes, things were not perfect. Sometimes the house ran out of operating money, and they would have to wait for their allowances. Sometimes some of the boys did not want to do their fair share. And yet, I couldn’t help but be moved by the raw honesty in the boys’ prayers and in their voices.

But, where it became most clear to me that Michael’s vision of providing “family” for the boys was a holy calling was in just how normal the boys were. The youngest ones needed help and attention. They sometimes drifted off to sleep during devotions. They looked at the older boys with admiration.

The oldest guys had moved into the stage of life where they understood it was time to be helpful and to give back. They willingly took on their chores. One would get up very early to go pick up the bread for the day. Another would get up early to make many gallons of sweet, sweet lime juice for all the others.

And then there were the young teens. At bravos, they would often roll their eyes as others expressed appreciation. They would poke at the little ones. At times they were a bit surly or in very grumpy moods. In other words, they were going through that change from childhood to young adulthood, with all the attendant changes in hormones and moods, and they did it freely. When they went too far in their grumpiness, their punishment was extra chores, or requirements to help the younger ones with their homework. Just like in a “normal” family.

As I have gone back again and again over the years, I’ve seen those same awkward young teens turn into amazing adults. They mature and grow, just like we all hope our children will do!

What I realized was that the boys of the St. Joseph Family were allowed to be who they were at the various stages we all go through as we mature. But they were also being nurtured into responsible young adulthood by Michael, the older boys, and even the men who had grown up at SJHB and came back on the weekends to visit.

They didn’t all make it. I remember one boy who had survived on the streets by stealing what he needed to live, and they could not get him to break that habit, and thus he had to leave. I remember another boy who simply thought the chores and daily routines of being a part of a family were not fair to him, and he left of his own accord.

But so many more did understand the new life and new possibilities that were given to them because of the St. Joseph Family. The ones who couldn’t manage family life were also given second and third chances to make the adjustment, and many were helped to survive on their own for a time when they couldn’t.

Finally, though, it has always been the eye-rolling that has given me the most hope. Being 13 years old is difficult anywhere, but even more so for these boys whose early lives have brought them so much suffering. I know in my heart that if these surly teens can grow into strong men, something akin to resurrection is surely going on!

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