In 1987, a young Haitian priest named Father Fritz Valdema (“Pere Val”) walked into the office of TJ Johnston, an American volunteering with the Episcopal Church in Haiti. Despite differences in language and culture, TJ and Pere Val found a common bond: a call to alleviate the suffering of the poor and to lift up communities.
They realized that TJ could bring relationships and resources to bear, which were best shepherded by Pere Val and his wife, Carmel, an experienced nurse and community health leader, who understood the local needs and culture.
In 2003, Carmel founded Light from Light’s sister organization, Lespwa Timoun (“Hope for Children” in Haitian Creole). Since then, the work that TJ, Pere Val, and Carmel began has flourished. An enduring friendship has expanded to include rich, mutual partnerships between American churches, medical professionals, and Haitian communities.
While an ocean divides us, we have been united for three decades by what we share: faith, values, and purpose.