Born and raised in Fondwa, a small, rural community south of Port au Prince, Father Joseph has faced what most would consider insurmountable obstacles. Not so for Father Joseph. During a lifetime of service he has created a myriad solutions for his fellow Haitians.
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, 1,000 Haitian employees, 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 Asossyasyon Peyizan Fondwa (Association of the Peasants of Fondwa/APF Haiti) which now boasts a primary and secondary school serving some 700 students, an orphanage, a community radio station, programs in renewable energy, water purification, reforestation and agriculture and so much more. 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.
Father Joseph holds an undergraduate degree in commercial accounting from the “Ecole de Commerce” André Laroche, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and a Master of Divinity degree with special studies in liturgy and politics from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. He has also studied credit cooperative management at the Centre Lebret in Paris, and attended training in banking administration at Fairfield University in Connecticut. He also received a Doctorate Honorary Degree at the University of San Francisco, California in 2009 for his work on humanitarian and development aiding the poor.
Father Joseph continues in the strenuous work of Raising Haiti for over thirty years. His own peasant beginnings have prepared and inspired him to understand and hearken to the struggles of his fellow Haitians in powerful ways that have lifted hundreds of thousands of lives.
Father Joseph's life has been chronicled in a new feature length documentary by Floating World Pictures and director Jeff Kaufman. This inspiring film is window inside the the world of Father Joseph and his work with the people of rural Haiti. His passion and drive is on full display and is only eclipsed by the true love he has for Haiti and the people in the Fondwa region. To find out more about this movie, watch the trailer or purchase the movie; click the button below.
FATHER JOSEPH DOCUMENTARY
1718 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 201 • Washington, DC 20009
PO Box 21624 • Washington, DC 20009
phone: (202) 800-7077
Raising Haiti Foundation is an authorized business name for Association of the Peasants of Fondwa, USA Inc., a District of Columbia 501(c)3 charitable entity.