The Long Walk to School

By Debbie Lucien

IBC partner Debbie Lucien tells of a boy on the verge of his future.

In the summer months of 2001, a five-year-old boy named Enel Previl was brought by his family to a local church. His parents had been told that by doing so, the boy’s photo would be taken and perhaps with the help of some foreign friends, the school could pay its teachers for the coming year. His parents thought this was a good thing. When they later heard that some people picked their son’s photo for ongoing sponsorship, they thought, “God has opened a door for him to go to school.”

With his brother and two sisters, Enel started preschool, walking through sunny and rainy days to begin learning about letters, numbers, and colors. Each night, upon returning to his home of mud and sticks, he would sleep close to his five family members after doing lessons or repeating his schoolwork back to his parents.

School continued with the help of donors who kept his school open. In fact, it grew to house over 500 students. Initially meeting just under sticks and thatch roof with no walls, the students were excited to see a 500 square-foot cement block building go up after a few years. Now, when it was muddy outside, the classrooms could still stay clean. Enel progressed slowly but surely, sometimes having to share the school supplies he received through sponsorship with his brothers and sisters.

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In 2009, Enel was thrilled to be able to start secondary school. His sponsor had continued to be faithful. Enel had to walk a little further, but proudly wore the peach and tan uniform of the upper division school of College de la Grace. The next year, however, was very hard for his family. Enel’s father, who had long suffered with cardiovascular problems, finally passed away, leaving the family with even fewer resources. Enel says that if it wasn’t for the financial help he received through sponsorship, he definitely would have had to quit school as an 8th grader. But since he had support, his family saw clearly that God had kept the door open for him to continue his education.

Two years later, while discussing life with one of his classmates and hearing many speakers at church and school, Enel decided to become a Christian. Enel’s friend Nesly — also a sponsored student at the school — prayed with him to accept Christ, and began discipling him. Since becoming a believer, Enel has been active in the choir and enjoys helping to lead worship at his local church.

While it’s taken a long time for him to complete his studies, Enel finally finished secondary school at College de la Grace after 17 years of steady investment. At the age of 22, he now has the equivalent of an Associate’s Degree. At the recent graduation, I recognized his name from one of the first groups of children ever helped through sponsorship. He agreed to pose, tall and proud in his graduation robes, with the school founder (and my husband) Caleb Lucien. I asked Enel if he would stop by and talk to me the next day about his future dreams and what he would like to say to his sponsors.

The next day, a Saturday, he greeted me eagerly and told me he was so grateful for the help his sponsors had given him and his family. They had been faithful for 17 years, though he’s never had a chance to meet them. And the fruit of their generosity is evident: Enel is the first member of his family ever to finish high school. He dreams of becoming a doctor or an engineer but knows it will take many years to accomplish such a goal, and he has no means other than his family’s farm. But he is now fluent in two languages, Creole and French, and has a firm opening into “society” as we say here in Haiti. He now looks me in the eye when we talk and speaks clearly about his faith and his sense of responsibility he feels for the future of his family. Enel understands what a great privilege he has received. 

He told me he’s now waiting on the Lord to see what doors will open for the future. In the meantime, he would like to help area students with their studies, asking families to pay him only what they can afford. I encouraged him by sharing several stories of how we have seen God work in the lives of other young people, and how often they have also had to wait for their next steps to be made clear. Finally, we talked about his sponsors. Enel knew exactly what he would say to them: “I’d like to tell them THANKS! I’ve never had the chance to meet them but they’ve helped me so much.” I told him I’d be sharing his graduation picture with them and would let them know how they’ve blessed his life. 

Enel headed off that day back to his small home where he lives with his mother and some unmarried siblings. He walks tall and straight and proudly, knowing the God who took him this far is able to help him arrive exactly where he needs to be.

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About Debbie

Born and raised overseas as the daughter of a military pilot, Debbie thought she knew the world. But when she visited Haiti at the age of 25, she realized that God was a lot bigger than she thought. After being courted/recruited by Caleb, she moved to Haiti in 1993 and never escaped the adventure! Follow her on twitter at: @MadameCaleb.

All posts by Debbie

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