This is the continuation of last week’s blog, a profile of Levenson Badio, Bright Hope Haiti’s Operations Manager.* If you missed it, click here.
When Levenson was a student, many of his peers dropped out of school along the way. We asked Levenson why he thought he was different—why he had a drive to persevere through hard circumstances and go to college and get a master’s degree. Levenson is grateful to God and his parents for raising him in a Christian home.
His parents told him, “We don’t give you many friends to play with…we give you Jesus, the Bible, and education. With Jesus and an education, you can go very far in life.”
Levenson decided to follow those steps by focusing on Jesus, education, and being involved with friends who would do wise things.
Jump back into his story with us here…
After graduating from high school, I went to a very competitive university. You’d find 3,000 to 4,000 applicants, but they would only take a hundred students. So you had to study hard to prepare, working late into the night before going to sleep. I used to have to go out and walk 15 minutes to get to a streetlight so I could use the light to study by.
In university I started to study plants, animals, anatomy, physiology, and then I went to an internship. As I was a studying, I started to have a different focus, a specific focus, which is community development. “How do I help farmers get a good income?”
I could see that farmers who are living in rural areas are left alone; then they suffer from food insecurity. They are the poorest people in the country—and not just in Haiti, but around the world. Then I decided that I needed to study agricultural economics. I said, “I want to major in agricultural economics to study rural life—how to help people increase their income to improve their livelihoods.”
After graduating with a degree in agronomy, I got a short-term job with the Haitian government’s Ministry of Agriculture, and after that I found an agriculture internship in the United Sates. Once I finished that, I returned to Haiti and got a job with a nonprofit here in Haiti. After nearly a year-and-a-half in that position, I found a scholarship to study for a master’s degree in Korea.
I decided to get a master’s degree because I wanted to understand food insecurity.
People in the rural area are more affected by food insecurity; I wanted to know how to address that problem because I didn’t understand it, then also be able to assess the situation of someone.
After I came back from Korea, as I was looking for jobs, my interest was in community development. In my first job that’s what I was doing. I was working as a project coordinator of income-generation projects, working with people in rural areas.
When I saw Bright Hope’s ads for that position, I reading the position requirements and I checked out Bright Hope on the internet.
And I thought, “Oh, that looks like my field of study. That’s so interesting. That’s something I need to apply for.” As I was applying, I saw that I could be in my field of study doing something that I like—because I like to work with people in rural area, helping them to develop their leadership, their capacity.
And what I like the most about Bright Hope is the fact that it’s a Christian NGO.
As I was seeing that my job responsibility would be also to work on leadership development with the pastors, I’m like, “Oh, that doesn’t look just like a job. It’s like a ministry.” I said, “I need to go for it. It’s a job in ministry.”
I remember that is something I told Cindie [Bright Hope’s director of international partnerships] during the interview: “It’s not just a job when you are working for Bright Hope, it’s as if you were working for your church. And your church has a mission, and you say, ‘I want to go on that mission.’ It’s like they are paying you for a ministry.”
That’s what I felt most. It’s not just a job.
Levenson started as Bright Hope’s Haiti Operations Manager in September 2018.
Levenson has worked hard to get to where he is today. He used to worry about his future, he said, but when he was in Korea a pastor told him not to.
Fifteen years ago, Levenson recalls, it was his dream to go to university, and get a master’s degree, and have a job where he was making a positive impact on society. And look where he is today.
“That’s why I said, ‘You need to count the good deeds of the Lord. So, you shouldn’t be worried about what you cannot change, about the future, because God knows the future.”
“I was worried about it, but the Lord had everything under control. That’s it. So, yeah. I’m thankful to the Lord for, really, everything.”
*Interview has been edited for flow, length and clarity.