By Pierre Julien, ministry program manager in Haiti
Last month, Samaritan’s Purse sponsored 10 high-risk youth to attend vocational school to become heavy equipment operators as a part of a program called Trading Violence for Technical Training. They come from areas with heavy gang activity and crime rates. The project gives them a chance to escape and find a better life.
The program has already borne fruit. Two of the youth who graduated from the school in April are now working with our rubble and construction teams as interns. Despite the difficulty of traveling from Port-au-Prince to Leogane to attend devotions at 7:30 every morning, these two young men have consistently arrived on time. It is an incredible testimony to the success of this program.
During the first meeting with the new group, the students were asked to introduce themselves. Each one thanked Samaritan’s Purse and the pastor who is our ministry partner for giving them an opportunity to take a new course with their lives. One student expressed his gratefulness for the chance to learn a new skill to get a job. Another student gave thanks to the pastor for caring about them enough to provide a way out of trouble. Others shared their thankfulness to God for touching someone’s heart to think about them because they didn’t believe that anyone truly cared.
One man stood up to share his testimony. He stated that this was truly a new beginning for him. “I earned money in illegal matters, and I am not proud of that,” he said. “But now I have a new chance to change my life. I am grateful.”
After the new students introduced themselves, Junior, one of the interns from the last graduated class, shared his testimony.
“I have peace in my life now,” he said. “I have a job, I’m in church, and I can sleep in peace at night. You all know me and the life I used to live. Now you don’t see me out there anymore, and you will not see me. This program gave me a new chance in life. I encourage you to come to church to meet with each other and people who will encourage you.”
Sponsoring this education and technical training program has been a vehicle for Samaritan’s Purse to impact a community, reduce crime, give hope, and encourage and lead young people to a new course in their lives. It is wonderful to see the radical transformation in these men, and we give God all of the glory for it.