Haitian leader dreams of a world where all fathers care for their childrenJulie Smith
At GO Project, we’re proud to employ a diverse group of leaders who are deeply familiar with the places where we serve and passionate about lifting up the people who live there. Odinès Paulimé has been a vital member of our ministry for five years, fiercely advocating for and delivering strength, hope, and love to children and families living in his home country of Haiti.
“I grew up in a community named Calebasse in the city of Kenscoff, Haiti,” says Odinès. “One of my favorite things to do as a child was to get on a guava tree that was tall and flexible. I would nail an aluminum plate to make a steering wheel and pretend that I was driving by bouncing up and down on the tree. I would do that all day long if I could!”
Growing up, Odinès was loved and protected by both his mother and grandmother, and his mom Roselène fought tirelessly so that he could become the man he is today. “Education was, and continues to be, a great challenge for every family in Haiti. I am the oldest of five siblings and my mother, on her own, worked so hard so that I could reach 9th grade. That’s all she could do, so after that, I worked and sacrificed to save money to finish high school and attend university for two years in Haiti.”
It wasn’t until he was 14 years old that Odinès met his father. “A classmate’s dad knew him, and I was so excited when he took me to meet the person who was supposed to be my father. I met his wife and six children and told him I wanted to pursue my education. He expressed no desire to provide any financial help, and I did not see him again until 17 years later. It was a devastating encounter, but God remains faithful to his plans for my life, and I am still grateful for my heavenly Father.”
Odinès went on to study Business Management at University Espoir and entrepreneurship at a different institute in Haiti. On January 12, 2010, he was driving home to his apartment when the earth started shaking. “I didn’t know it was an earthquake. I thought it was the end of the world. When I got to my apartment, it wasn’t there! The four-story building where I lived on the top floor was completely flat. It was chaotic, and I felt helpless. People were crying, trying to locate their friends and loved ones. The aftershocks made it feel like another earthquake was coming.”
God’s angels had intervened to stop Odinès from getting to his apartment before its collapse. “I forgot something important back at the office and returned to get it. Then God put someone in my way to slow me down until the earthquake happened. I don’t deserve to be alive, but my death was not part of God’s plan for me that day. He is amazing and I am so grateful for His love and mercy.”
In his role at GO Project as the Ministry Implementor, Odinès is able to draw upon his own unique experiences to advocate for the fatherless and serve vulnerable Haitian children and youth through education and training. “Through our current programs, I’m seeing families being strengthened and reunited, youth transitioning out of care into independent, thriving adults, and leaders taking initiative to provide family-style care for kids. My greatest passion is the Transition Academy in Haiti. Accompanying, inspiring, and guiding young adults to become the person God intended them to be is transformational. I am so grateful for the opportunity to inspire these young people and work with the devoted local leaders.”
When he’s not busy working and serving his brothers and sisters in Christ, Odinès enjoys his most important role as husband and father. “I love spending time with my wife Amy and two kids. Amy is exceptional and I am so grateful for her. I never truly knew who I was until my children were born and having these two treasures is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. My son and I have always loved playing soccer together, and we’ve enjoyed learning the game of American football since moving to the U.S. My daughter and I love dancing and playing the piano together. They bring me joy, happiness, and hope daily. They changed me for the better and continue to do so.”
While Haiti has endured decades of both natural and leadership disasters, it is Odinès’ hope that people will stop seeing it as just a poor country.
“Haiti is filled with majestic mountains, gorgeous beaches, and some of the best cuisine in the world! Her people are incredibly talented, strong, intelligent, and resilient. Despite many challenges, Haitians are boldly thriving to take care of themselves and dream every day of a better life for their children. If others want to help Haiti, they should share the positive things about the country and her people.”