In 1987, Pastor Franklin Val was shot five times during the overthrow of the Henry Namphy & William Regala regimes, which followed the oust of dictator Jean Claude Duvalier in Haiti. As he slowly recovered, he was deeply troubled by the problems and social ills that plagued his country. He made a promise to God that if he lived, he would open an orphanage for the many parentless children wandering the streets after the political violence.
That year, with the help of his sister Yrma, Val opened an orphanage in the countryside of Leogane Province, a 2 hour drive southwest of Port-au-Prince, and took in 55 children. Val and Yrma were both in their 50s, with families and children of their own. Yet they gave their lives to what they believed God had called them to do to serve their country and His Kingdom.
Pastor Val supported the orphanage with his taxi service for international visitors and the press, and also raised support in Canada and the United States. But as Haiti's government became more and more troubled in the 1980s and 1990s, support dwindled, and Val found himself stretched to the limits.
Today, Val and Yrma care for upwards of 40 children, and also provide meals to the surrounding community. Val hosts revival meetings on the weekends in the church adjacent to the orphanage. Yet their finances are limited and sometimes they struggle to find food and money to send the children to school.
Val knows that without basic necessities the children cannot live. But his vision is greater. He knows that to lift Haiti out of its troubled circumstances, the children need to have marketable skills and know the love of God. Plans are underway to build a bakery, food depot, medical clinic and trade school to provide care and opportunity to the children and their surrounding community of Bongnotte.
This is his mission.
Transcript of Interview With Pastor Val (Conducted January 2008)
"A vehicle came and brrrr, shoot at me. And while they were shooting me, I just said, 'God I will not die, I will live.'
I stayed at the hospital for 15 days, so when I went back home, I was thinking about the miracle God did for me. And I said, 'Lord, I have to do something. There are so many children in the street around Port au Prince and no parents to take care of them. I am going to start an orphanage.'
And that's the way I started.
My name is Franklin Val and I am the pastor/founder of this place. I drive [a] taxi in order to take care of myself, take care of my family and parts of the money that I receive from my job, I use it for the orphanage.
Life at the orphanage with the children is very amusing, very interesting. This is one of the things that makes me happy when I am among them because I feel you are doing something and your soul is satisfied with that.
She works very hard taking care of those children. You can see how she is skinny! She started and never quit. Even though we have hard times, very hard times, but she still stayed here with me and take care of the children. Sometimes we have no food, and after we have no help, no sponsors, she stay[s] here and take[s] care of the children. So that makes me really feel, you know, I am happy with her.
So, I got a great vision to see for the orphanage. Helping the children know God, and having an education. And when they grow up, they will be able to take care of themselves.
We want to have a school in this area here, and a clinic; that is my vision for them. We have difficulties in finding food and money to send them to school. So we need some hands. Some people having love for Haiti, for the children. We would like to transform this place!
I believe God will do something. I believe that.
And I am expecting for that."