Samaritan’s Purse deployed to Haiti immediately after the earthquakes in January 2010 and established a base in Léogâne, a city located 18 miles from Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital. An impoverished, beautiful, historical city built on flat land, Léogâne is surrounded by high mountains and gorgeous beaches. It was the epicenter of the earthquake that destroyed 90 percent of the city.
Somewhere inside this distraught, historical city, praying and hoping for a brighter future, was Eder Montrose, a young man with a dream and a natural leader with a vision for his people and other youth like him. His story is the epitome of many young Haitians’ lives—youth and young adults with stagnant dreams because, in spite of high aptitudes and determination, a young person trying to survive off $2 a day cannot afford higher education, except by the grace and mercies of those more fortunate than them.
A year of high school in Haiti averages at $250. And for those who finish high school, the next great hurdle is finding funding for a private university or finding favor to obtain one of the few coveted slots in a state-run institution. While the youth and young adult population is the most overlooked, they are the largest. According to Population Action International, nearly 70 percent of Haitians are aged 29 years and under. And according to CIA World Factbook (2015), the median age for Haiti is 22.2 years.
It was Eder’s good fortune that Samaritan’s Purse is located in Léogâne. Since Samaritan’s Purse is a popular Christian organization in the area, Eder consulted with them in early 2011 to solicit support for an inter-church youth Bible contest. Eder was a strong Christian who had accepted salvation four years earlier. Samaritan’s Purse assisted him with his project and was pleased to see that Eder demonstrated good stewardship when he returned the required after-action reports timely and correctly.
Consequently, Samaritan’s Purse developed a partnership with Eder’s youth organization and worked together with their youth leadership team to strengthen youth ministry and children outreach in the area using The Greatest Journey, a 12-week discipleship program offered by Operation Christmas Child.
During a meeting later that year, I was led to ask the young man how he was doing. Eder told me that he has been out of high school for three years and couldn’t afford to attend a university. After three attempts to get admitted into the state-funded law school, the only obstacle that was separating him from his dream of becoming an attorney was a fee of $250 to facilitate his admittance. Moved by Eder’s integrity, perseverance, and commitment to God, I paid the fee. This year, Eder was sworn-in as a public defender while completing his final requirements for his law degree.
His youth ministry outreach is growing significantly, currently regrouping youth from 34 area churches to sensitize them regarding their responsibilities toward God, their country, and their community. His partnership with Samaritan’s Purse facilitated the successful implementation of Operation Christmas Child in the Léogâne area. This year, 2,500 children graduated from The Greatest Journey, while 245 children accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Grateful to God for connecting him with Samaritan’s Purse, Eder shared the following words of testimony:
“God is faithful. I thank Him! He did for me what my parents were not able to do. Not only has my life been profoundly influenced and changed since meeting with the Samaritan’s Purse Ministry Program Team (MPT), but God granted me opportunities to influence the lives of many young people with the Gospel message.
“I will never stop being grateful to God for connecting me to SP-Haiti. After all, Christian youth in Haiti suffer more than any other group because most organizations and NGOs usually only help children and orphans. Not many people have charity in their hearts for my age group, though we are the hope and future of Haiti. Our needs are as critical.”
It appeared that Eder would be denied his dream of becoming an attorney. However, even before he was saved, God had a plan for Eder’s life. God used Samaritan’s Purse to enable Eder to advance the interest of the Kingdom of God in the Léogâne area. And because of Eder’s faithfulness, God transformed his situation from stagnant to lively hopefulness. Hopes and dreams can be delayed but never denied when we commit our lives to God, the author and finisher of our faith.