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Rev. Jean Claude Sylvain was only 20 years old when he desired to start a school and open a home for orphans and needy children so that children could have access to education and a better tomorrow. His ambition originated from seeing his mother work as a live-in maid for just $5 a month. When he visited his mother, he had no access to the living room and couldn’t play with the other children, but instead had to stay in a single guest house room built outside the main house where his mother slept at night. He wondered: Why do human beings have to be treated that way?
In 1978, with the help of a minister who let him use a small room in his church, Rev. Sylvain started a school, just charging a small fee. When parents could not afford the small fee, Rev. Sylvain never sent the children home; instead, he would look for volunteer help with the teaching.
Rev. Sylvain’s ultimate goal was to open a home for orphans and needy children where children could have a place to stay and food to eat. In 1979, Mary Khul, a missionary from Ohio, came to Haiti and traveled with Rev. Sylvain. For Rev. Sylvain, this was a dream come true: together with Mary Khul’s help, Rev. Sylvain rented a house where he could continue with the school and open a home for orphans and needy children.
In 1982, Rev. Sylvain received his calling to be a minister of the Gospel. He was blessed with more students for his school and added more needy children to the home. Later in the same year, Rev. Sylvain adopted a son named Jean Sylvain who is now a Registered Nurse, married with two children, and serves as the Vice-President for the Life for Haiti Foundation.
In 1987, Rev. Sylvain married his wife Guislaine Richardson-Sylvain, who gave birth to their daughter, Stephanie Sylvain, in 1989.
To spread the Gospel, Rev. Sylvain in 1995 opened more churches in different regions of Haiti and the need to educate more young church leaders increasingly grew. In 2006, Rev. Sylvain’s desire to help the Haitian community broadened and he founded the Life for Haiti Foundation, which provides a free mobile clinic, food banks, schooling, tutoring program, and music lessons.
In 2010 when the earthquake hit Haiti, Rev. Sylvain was in Florida and he quickly flew to Haiti through the Dominican Republic so he could be with the people there. With the help of some construction workers in his church, he built a large shelter where about 3,000 people were able to stay.
Today, Rev. Sylvain continues his quest to help the Haitian community by running homes for orphans and needy children, schools, churches, free clinics, and music schools. Currently he oversees 12 churches in Haiti. He runs four schools and he has more than 600 children attend his schools. The three homes for orphans and needy children have more than 160 children living there.