Joseph: a Story of Dedication and Strength
The MCC Haiti blog will periodically feature a staff highlight in its Face-to-Face series. Joseph Saingelus -an MCC team member of 19 years - launches the series by telling of his journey from hardship and scarcity to finding kindness and opportunities among friends and MCC staff in Haiti. Meet Joseph:
My name is Joseph Saingelus, and I’m 45 years old. I’m a very short man. I am a father to three children, a 12-year-old boy, a 10-year-old girl and a 4-year-old girl, and husband to Josette for 12 years. I love them all so much.
I’m pleased to share with you about how my life was once was difficult, but now it is blessed. I was born into a poor family in Ti-gwav, a town 3 hours west of Port-au-Prince. My parents had 8 children together, of which I am the sixth. My father also had 3 children with another woman. My little brother and I were the only sons of the family. As we grew up, my brother had the ability – with God’s blessing and provision – to train as an excellent mason, carpenter, and cabinet maker through informal apprenticeships.
I always loved school but unfortunately I could not afford it.
For this reason I went to Port-au-Prince to stay with a friend’s husband. He paid me to do small jobs around his house which in turn allowed me to pay for evening school to continue my primary education. I struggled a lot to complete primary school. When you’re in Port-au-Prince and you’re not among family members, even routine tasks are difficult - cooking, sleeping, washing and pressing your clothes, getting dressed. You are left to do everything on your own.
Yet finally I took the state exam and I completed my primary education. Due to a lack of means, I returned to my hometown, yet came back to Port-au-Prince 3 weeks later with a friend. Together, we sought employment so that we could advance into high school.
Through a new connection I found a job that offered 200 gourdes per month, which was too little; yet I soon met a foreigner who offered me an evening (security) job for 375 gourdes per month. I took the job and used that money to buy food and pay my school fees. My employer’s friend, who worked with MCC, came to visit frequently and we became friends. After talking, she offered to help me pay my school fees. That is the very moment I started to feel relief from all the difficulties I had been facing.
After working with a couple different foreigners I was introduced to the MCC Office. A friend had referred me to a one-month job opportunity there as a janitor. Seeing that I was kind, respectful, and disciplined, at the end of the month the director offered me the job and I began receiving a steady salary. With the money I started supporting my parents and my little sisters. I was also able to pay my school tuition without difficulty. This was in 1997.
I worked as janitor until I was done with secondary school and completed my state exams. I couldn’t afford to pay for college because it was too expensive, but I began learning the electrician’s trade. At MCC I was promoted to the role of messenger, then driver. In 2004 I was married, and in 2011 I completed an accounting degree.
I now work as an accountant for MCC.
Today God has given me the opportunity to pay school fees for my 3 children, two nieces, a nephew, plus myself as I study theology. I also continue to support some of my sisters – they were all raised without an education and therefore have difficulty supporting their children. I’d like to do even more than this but I’m limited financially.
I wanted to share my story as an encouragement to everyone whose parents are unable to support them. I want to let them know that through their own good will, determination and discipline they can make it. In all the difficult times I faced, I never let go. You must know where you came from and where you want to go. With that in mind, you’ll be able to stand strong when bad times come. You need to trust God in the difficult times and ask Him for guidance. As someone who preaches the word of God I believe that with Jesus everything is possible.
Thank you for reading my story.