A young boy, once destined for delinquency and a lack of education, is now bringing hope to his country as a member of the Haitian Parliament. His mother, a single parent and widow struggling to provide for her family, could never have imagined that Beguens would one day make decisions that influence the lives of families such as her own.
Elected as a congressman in the Haitian Parliament in 2011, Beguens Theus is deputy of Gonave Island. Also a university professor and successful writer, he is advocating for the good of his native community – the biggest island in Haiti – and is as passionate as ever about releasing local children from poverty in Jesus’ Name.
“When I was a boy, I used to walk the shores of the island I lived on, and dream of what could be… getting out of poverty, making something of my life, and living out my dreams. And now, after all these years, that day has finally arrived: I stand here before you as a newly-elected Congressman. I love God, and I love the people of Haiti,” he said.
A new start
Born into a family of five, in the small, poor community of Petit-Fond on Gonave Island, Beguens’ father passed away in a shipwreck when he was just one year old.
Raising her children on her own was a tough challenge for Beguens’ mother, who feared she would see her children grow up with no access to education – not uncommon in an impoverished country like Haiti.
The opportunity for Beguens to enrol in Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Programme changed everything. He was able to start school at the age of five, and benefit from the project’s nutritious food, medical attention and, above all, a chance to get to know Jesus.
“I got a new start. I knew I needed to work hard, become educated and focus on the commandments of God,” said Beguens.
Beguens was able to join Compassion’s Leadership Development Programme, which helped shape him into the leader he is today. He began studying accounting, and growing in confidence and direction. He then went on to pursue the study of politics, international relations and a Masters degree in population studies. Beguens realised the value of education, and has enriched the Haitian library by writing books on the power of local community development, NGOs, poverty, women’s rights, education policy and aid.
Leading the way
La Gonave is one of the poorest places in Haiti, due to its lack of basic infrastructure. Speaking up for central government to hear the cry of Gonave Island residents is far from straightforward, but Beguens believes it starts at grassroots: “I believe that if every leader empowered with authority focuses on addressing issues that can serve the development of his native community, the efforts of each of these leaders of all communities in Haiti put together will bring national growth in the country.
“I take up the fight for my people and become their voice in parliament. This thirst for a better tomorrow was so great that it pressed me to emerge as a leader, and God favoured me by allowing me to become the deputy here.”
A vision for the next generation
“The suffering of our people is heavy on my heart,” said Beguens. “We have endured more than we can bear for so many years. Earthquakes, fighting, riots, floods…there is so much we must do to make things right. I believe it starts with our children. Will they face the same hardship the generations before them faced? Will they be educated enough to make the right decisions?
“It’s my vision, as a government official and a man of God, to save our little ones from the horrors of poverty. Just as Compassion gave me a new life, I want to do the same for all the children of Haiti. God is using Compassion to write a new story in Haiti, one of hope and a new future,” said Beguens.
Beguens knows he is privileged to be able to impact the lives of many children. He has helped more than two thousand local children go to school, and the schools he set up are on track to become public, meaning they would be managed by the central government.
“I know that education can transform a destiny. I am nearly at the end of my term as deputy of Gonave Island, and I can really be proud for all the milestones that I have reached.”
Lucy Cooper, Compassion UK