I met Jocelyn Cogmar in the year of 2000. His youngest, at the time, Safna, was being given to my ex-husband as a sign of grateful indebtedness. Jocelyn had invited my ex- and myself to his house for dinner one Sunday afternoon after church. He lived not far from the church. My ex- and I walked the short distance on the dusty road to his humble house. It was a very small house for a young family of six; Jocelyn, his wife, and his four very young daughters. The house, by no means, looked to be a permanent structure. It had four walls and nothing more than that, only one room for this family of six. The walls were made of tree branches that were woven together and a mud mixture to hold the branches in place. The roofing was thatched with dried-up banana leaves. This is the common lodgings for low-income families in Haiti. My friend, Jocelyn, is the poorest of those that I have witnessed in Haiti.
When my ex- and I arrived at their home, we opened the small make-shift gate into their yard. Jocelyn was very proud to receive us as his honored guest. His three older daughters were as happy as could be running and chasing each other around their wee-tiny dirt yard. Jocelyn brought out two straight-back, wooden chairs with grass-woven seats for us to sit on. His wife, Jacklyn, brought us food, fried chicken drumsticks, rice, and beans. We were also provided with Coca-Cola. This was no small effort on this man's part; we were being treated like royalty.
I did not understand the reason for this grand reception until years later; My ex-husband was being honored as godfather to Jocelyn's youngest daughter, Safna, as a gift for the care my ex- provided his father through a difficult sickness. It was an easy offering to my ex- to provide transportation back and fro the local hospital, it was a resource that my ex- had at the time. But to Jocelyn, a man without means, it meant much more. Jocelyn had only his flesh and blood to offer my ex-.
I was losing everything that was important to me as well. I had just made a very tough decision to live through. My marriage was failing and resources for marital therapy in Haiti was non-existent. We had exhausted the one pastoral counselor in Cap-Haitian and I felt I had no other choice but to try and get my family to the states. But to do that, I had to leave Cap-Haitian, and do it from the states end. So that left my house in Lory empty. I needed Jocelyn, and Jocelyn needed me. Thus, this began the friendship between me and Jocelyn. I have seen the man Jocelyn, the Christian brother, the friend, the father, husband, the provider.
Jocelyn is the one face I have in my mind of what it means to be a father in Haiti; the strength that is needed to get up each and every morning not knowing where you will get your next dollar to feed your family for the day. It requires much faith, much more faith than strength. Matthew, chapter 17, verse 20, Jesus talked about faith the size of a mustard seed. In this parable, Jesus is telling his disciples that strength is not needed to move a mountain, but a small amount of faith is needed. I would say that my friend, Jocelyn, has the faith of a mustard seed that God will supply all of his need. Earlier in Matthew, Jesus tells the multitude at the Sermon on the Mount that there is no need for parents to worry about food and clothes. Jocelyn knows this. His faith carries him through the worry of not being able to provide for his family. Oh, but strength. It is very difficult, a burden that is hard for fathers in Haiti to bare, to rise each morning knowing that you did not provide for your family at any one day.
I would like to honor fathers, like Jocelyn, who live in poverty in Haiti. We honor all fathers this Father's Day. It is our fathers who rise everyday to bring peace, provision, and prosperity to his family.