Jean Enock Joseph teaches self-help to lift Haiti
Pastor Jean Enock Joseph doesn't shy from Haiti's toughest problems. His message: Haitians have the ability to help themselves.
Jean Enock Joseph is a born storyteller. Seated behind a desk at his office in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, he energetically waves his hands as he explains his work. Mr. Joseph clearly has endless enthusiasm for his subject – powered by the raw energy of a reformer.Skip to next paragraph
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"With sheer willpower and hardly any means, we've built our projects on efficiency and vision," he says, his singsong French rising and falling with each sentence. "We've focused on inclusion, fairness, excellence, and making a difference. Those are our values – and we've produced results."
Pastor Enock (as he's better known) is an evangelical preacher, which goes some way to explaining his rousing speaking style. But he's also a passionate advocate of lay issues, such as access to education and housing, needs that continue to bypass large swaths of the population here.
His day-to-day social work focuses on helping some of Haiti's most needy, in a country that remains the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
Joseph was born and raised in Cité Soleil – the most notorious shantytown in Port-au-Prince – where many of his social projects are still focused. The area is renowned for gangs with various political allegiances and drug-related violence.
A bloody upturn in violence a decade ago was enough to convince the pastor that enough was enough.
"Our initiative was launched 10 years ago to respond to a problem that was ravaging Cité Soleil," Joseph explains. "There was a murderous struggle between residents of [the] Boston and Soleil Neuf [neighborhoods], which, over the course of around 30 days, saw women raped, houses destroyed, and people killed. The population was powerless to stop the thugs from doing what they wanted.
"We realized that there were plenty of good, honest people able to do something about this situation," he continues, "which is why we launched CONOCS – the Collective of Noteworthy People in Cité Soleil. Our goal at the time was to struggle for peace, nonviolence, and sustainable development in the area."
While Joseph concedes that Cité Soleil has a special place in his heart, his focus over the years has shifted to helping Haiti as a whole. His work now takes him to places such as Bon Repos and Croix-des-Bouquets, cities northeast of Port-au-Prince.
Putting Haitians in charge of recovery
CONOCS has also evolved into a large umbrella organization called MPE (Ministère Pasteur Enock) overseen by the pastor. To date it has helped set up five primary schools, two hospitals, one vocational college, one music school, two youth orchestras, and three Internet cafes.