Father Joseph established Haiti’s largest micro-credit bank for the poor (Fonkoze), which has given literacy training and financial opportunity to hundreds of thousands of peasant women and their families. He also founded a 700-student K-14 school, an orphanage, a clean water project, a reforestation program, a health clinic, and a radio station. He has built dozens of homes, and he created the University of Fondwa, Haiti’s first rural college. Along the way, several of Father Joseph’s friends and colleagues were murdered because of their work for the poor. Almost all of Father Joseph’s 25 years of work was destroyed by the 2010 earthquake, but he is rebuilding with an inspiring humor and determination.
“Father Joseph” is a fascinating look at Joseph Philippe, the man behind the good deeds, who founded various organizations to help the poor of Haiti. He founded the Association of the Peasants, an organization set up to help meet the needs of the poor. He solicited various people to set up a bank in Fonkoze, as well as a university and clinic. Despite setbacks, including a devastating earthquake that damaged much of the newly built properties, Philippe always maintains an optimistic outlook. In one scene, he sings, “I am a peasant and I am happy.”
The hardships include the kidnapping of a bank employee named Amos, and the result is tragic. Due to the scene of a bloody back of a corpse and a few content concerns listed under the “other” category, we are awarding this film our “Faith-Friendly” Seal for ages 12-plus. “Father Joseph” shows the difference one life of faith can make.