At only 23 years old, Benson Theodore is already generating much-needed business in the desolate community of Jubilee, Haiti.
Despite its name, Jubilee is depressed and destitute—a squatter’s settlement on the outskirts of Gonaives. Due to the overwhelming poverty, it is often said that Jubilee is to Haiti what Haiti is to the United States.
Home to 12,000 people, Jubilee abuts a garbage dump. Strong ocean winds continuously sweep across the barren region, kicking up dust, trash and refuse from open sewers, resulting in a plethora of preventable illnesses among residents.
To make matters worse, Gonaives’ history of voodoo, rioting and political violence has only served to further isolate the destitute from receiving the help they desperately need. Cut off from substantial aid for years, most of the poor are trapped in deplorable living conditions, but are unable to improve their situation because there are no jobs to generate an income and rebuild.
But hope is rising in Jubilee—and Benson is living proof.
Benson is an artist with a talent for making beautiful goat leather and burlap-covered journals, which he carefully designs by hand. With help from missionary Kathy Brooks of MUCH Ministries, a Cross International-supported ministry focused on holistic community development in Jubilee, Benson was able to refine his craft and formulate a successful business plan.
Since starting his journal-making business, Benson has been able to buy a plot of land, build a house, open a storefront and employ 25 people from his impoverished community.
“Through the grace of God I have been able to follow this path,” he says.
But not only is Benson bringing steady jobs to Jubilee, this high school and seminary graduate is also providing fellow community members with vocational training and business classes.
“I love seeing my students create and sell their wares,” he says.
God is continuously working through Benson, and others like him, to bring lasting hope and economic restoration to Jubilee.