Founder of Lemuel Ministries
Manis Dilus is a living testimony that a brighter future is possible, even for the lowest echelons of society. He grew up in Plateau Anse-Rouge, Haiti, and his family was among the most destitute in the area.
By God’s grace and Manis’s determination, he was able to rise out of poverty and get an education in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, hours away from home. In 1996, he founded Lemuel in Port-au-Prince to reach out to children in the slums surrounding his home. Then, he began receiving word that his family back on the Plateau was struggling to survive.
Manis attended middle and high school in Port-au-Prince.
Manis and his aunt in one of his early visits to the Plateau.
Manis immediately began sponsoring two boys to attend school. He then returned to Port-au-Prince to process what he had seen and to come up with a plan.
The first thing Lemuel did was to send a team to build latrines. Manis then hired a pastor whom he sent to begin working with the people.
Five years, two pastors, and one missionary later, the Plateau community was as a mess. The Haitian pastors had been driven away by strong vodouists in the area and the missionary had to leave suddenly. The result was a community in upheaval.
In 1998, Manis made what was then a nine hour trip to see for himself how the people were faring and what, if anything, could be done to help the community. When he arrived, he was horrified. Mountains he remembered being so thick with trees and underbrush that they had scared him as a child, were covered only with thorns and tough grass. Gardens that had always been green and full of produce had not even been planted for want of rain. Almost no children were in school and girls as young as 14 were expecting or had already become mothers.
Manis with a group of youth from the Plateau soon after his move there.
Manis held a meeting with his Port-au-Prince staff to decide who would go to the Plateau to calm the situation and establish the ministry there. All agreed that Manis was the only one who could work with the people of the Plateau since he was, after all, their family. Having never planned to return to the Plateau and knowing full well how difficult life there would be, Manis went hesitantly.
After a year of working on the Plateau, Manis saw things very differently. He realized the problem of centralization, and the result of overpopulated cities, was caused by the fact that no one gave any thought to the provinces —the extremely rural, out-of-the way places that make up most of Haiti’s land mass. He realized that while most aid and attention was focused in the cities, he had an opportunity to start something in an uncompromised area with people who had not yet been spoiled by toxic charity.
Finally, he realized that he had an opportunity to model for the next generation what can be done for Haiti when decentralization begins to happen, even on a minute level.
Today, we are so excited to be part of something that is not only changing lives but also changing the way people think and see their own country.