Saving Haiti One Village at a Time

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PIGNON, Haiti -- Six months have passed since a 7.0 magnitude earthquake killed thousands of people in Haiti.  Yet, despite everything that was lost, the country's people have not lost hope.

Two Haitian brothers have even dedicated their lives to passing on that hope to the next generation.

Moving On From Trauma

Pignon is in Haiti's north central plateau, about 85 miles outside of Port-au-Prince and a six-hour drive from the most visible signs of the Jan. 12 earthquake.  An estimated 30,000 Pignon residents managed to escape the impact.

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"It was total darkness and confusion in the minds of these people because Port-au-Prince has been the center of all kinds of activity," Haitian pastor Jephthe Lucien explained. "When you hear Port-au-Prince has been affected by disaster -- this is Haiti affected by the disaster."

The emotional toll of the quake prompted Lucien to invite a first response trauma team from America to help church leaders cope with post traumatic stress disorder and learn how to counsel others.

"We are dealing with an overwhelming amount of post traumatic stress problems," said Dr. Benjamin Keyes of Regent University. "The refugees from Port au Prince have all seen horrendous things. Bodies being piled up. Buildings collapsing. Their friends dying."

The counseling came months after the quake, but Lucien began his personal work with survivors minutes after the ground stopped shaking.

"People were crying without knowing what happened to their loved ones," Lucien said. "So one of our greatest endeavors was just to go and help them locate their family."

Unselfish Service

Lucien made the trip from Pignon to Port-au-Prince more than 40 times following the earthquake, helping people find loved ones and food.  In one of the journeys, his own family took in two brothers -- survivors Jesse and Dulis, whose parents were killed when the quake struck.

"I am reminded of what the Lord told Abraham," Lucien said. "You don't know you are blessed unless the Lord has used you to be a blessing."

Lucien has adopted abandoned children, helped the small church his father pastored grow into 42 churches in the most remote areas of greater Pignon and opened 20 schools.

"I think the Lord has really helped me to connect with my dear Haitian people," he said. "The Lord has called me to reach out."

'Brotherly' Love

In Deuteronomy 32:30, the Scriptures speak of one chasing 1,000 and putting 10,000 to flight. In Pignon, there are two brothers working to change the lives of thousands living in poverty.

"Over here in this building we have a computer lab," said pastor Caleb Lucien, Jephthe Lucien's brother.

Caleb founded Grace College in 1993, not long after completing his education in the U.S.

"I could live in the states if I want," Caleb said. "I am a permanent resident of the U.S. I can live there if I want to, but God has called me to be here."

His school has grown from 65 students to more than 1,400. 

There is no free education in Haiti, however, 500 of the students attend the school on scholarship after losing their families to the earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

"Someone told me, it does not cost anything to dream, so if you are dreaming, dream big," Caleb said.

It Takes a Village...

A big dream came true for Caleb in 2005. He brought electricity to the school and Pignon for the first time thanks to an electric generator donated by Donald Trump.  Today, he has around 600 customers.

"Every month, we install a meter and every month they receive a bill," he said.

Yet, Caleb's brightest lights are his students -- Pignon's future. He's now working to turn his old home into an orphanage for the growing number of children left without families.

"One village at a time, we can change our country," Caleb said. "One person at a time, we can change our schools. One family at a time we can change our community. And I think that is the opportunity that we have in front of us. That is the drive for us to stay here and continue the Lord's work here."

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Efrem Graham

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Efrem Graham is an award-winning journalist, who comes to CBN News from the ABC owned and operated station in Toledo, Ohio.  He received his master's degree from the Columbia University Journalism School. He also holds a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.  Follow Efrem on Twitter @EfremGraham and "like" him at Facebook.com/EfremGrahamCBN.