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Jojo’s Guesthouse in Curacao:
an interview with the owner

Emmanuel W. Védrine

Photo: E. W. Védrine Creole Project Archives

Jojo’s Guesthouse: an interview with the owner, pastor Josias Joseph

Haitian Creole (Kreyol) • English

November 7, 2022

E.V: Hello, pastor Josias! It’s a pleasure to have you again in our program, Educating Haitians of Haiti and the Haitians in the Diaspora. It is always with your servant, Emmanuel W. Védrine. Today is April 16, 2022; we are meeting with a strong Haitian leader in the Haitian community of Curacao. He is pastor Josias Joseph. He is going to talk to us a little bit -- since when he has been in Curacao, what he has been  doing in Curacao, the church he founded, and a guesthouse he recently opens which can help the Haitian community in diaspora, and in Haiti. It's a pleasure to meet with you, pastor Josias Joseph. How are you doing?

J.O: God bless you, brother Védrine! I greet you also in Jesus’ name. I greet all friends who are going to hear this vocal (or read the interview’s transcript), and as you just said, I am Josias Joseph. I am the pastor of the Church of God, Église de Dieu Union des Chrétiens. The church was founded 21 (twenty-one) years ago. It’s a privilege that God has given us to found the first Haitian Church here, in Curacao.

Photo: E. W. Védrine Creole Project Archives

How did you end up in Curacao? How was it for you in the beginning?

Well, I have to tell you how I ended up in Curacao; it’s a nice question… There was an embargo on Haiti due to the coup d'état that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The country was totally blocked. After all that we had to do to try to go to the United States. We had no choice; we had to find another place to go to in order to leave Haiti. At that time, they thought Haiti was the largest desert, the biggest problem existed. Yet, when looking at Haiti (from that time to today) we don’t know what name to give to Haiti now. Well, that's what motivated me to go to a small island, and from there to work our way to go to the United States, but that wasn't God's plan.

Well, as you have talked to us a little about the church, we know there are other pastors in the area as well. How was it for you? What problems did you encounter? How did God call you for this ministry in Curacao?

There we go! Truly, that was one of the biggest problems we had when we arrived on the island. We didn't find a church in our language; we didn't find a Haitian church. And everywhere we went, we found churches functioning in different languages. Sometimes, we didn't even understand what they were saying. We know that we are very limited in terms of language issue in Haiti. You may hear (the language), but you don’t get everything mostly in a foreign language, Papiamento. We did not find books to learn it. Well, to tell you the truth, we had problems to start out. Our souls started to dry out (to get thirsty). We were truly trying to orient ourselves in order to refresh our spirit, and soul.  And in prayer, the Lord gave us direction after 6 or 7 years. God was showing that the problem could be solved. There are servants available, those that have the will and ability to make the ministry work.

Among the programs you did in the media, you had a radio program in the community via Radio New Song, 96.5 fm (that was Chante Lakay or “Haitian songs”). Can you talk a little bit about this evangelical program? Many pastors in other places (in Haiti, everywhere in the diaspora) would like to know about this work you did at the evangelical level at Radio New Song.

Well, briefly, let me say this is a country where since you speak Creole, the people heard you speak Creole right away they would have problems. They were shocked because they never heard it. The same way we also never heard of papiamento, they too had never heard Creole. So, it was for the first time (in 1996) God would open a door for us to have a program in our mother tongue, which was broadcasting on Radio New Song 96.5 fm. It was astonishing when people of Curacao heard a Creole language spoken. They are surprised to hear that; and where not only was speaking but preaching the Gospel in it, encouraging souls, encouraging first the Haitian community that seemed to have been abandoned. That way, this program did a lot of work. It was one of the activities that promoted the church issue. This meant that we had come to a point to find a place to worship God. So, it was one of them. We have many other activities. I don't believe in this interview I will have time to tell them. We were doing many other activities in the community in order to keep our people, Haitians, truly in cultural and spiritual environment.

Thank you for that. We have a lot of work to do to get back to you again to document the Haitian community in Curacao, and maybe you can tell us since when they started there. We know that former Haitian president (Faustin) Soulouque was one of the immigrants who lived downtown Curacao for nearly a year. We don't know what you would like to say about the history of Haitians in Curacao. We take advantage of asking you this question to enrich our research further down.

Well, what I can say is that Curacao is one of the islands of the Lesser Antilles. We have ArubaBonaire, Curaçao (The ABC Islands) that were counted, but when we arrived here, we found more islands that are part of the Dutch Caribbean. All of them are part of Holland. One the things that drew my attention when I arrived here in Curacao, I was told that President François Duvalier had sent a boat filled with banana to Curacao as gift at a time when life was difficult for the people here. There was a famine. Sadly, they had no chance of refrigerating the bananas to protect them, they got spoiled. But the people were so happy that they ran to the dock to see that banana boat from Haiti. At their arrival, unfortunately, they found them spoiled. Sincerely, the people of Curacao appreciated the gesture that Duvalier did anyway because they were happy, and because we thought of them.

We will get back to you some other time, but talk to us a little about your nice guesthouse business that you are recently done with its construction; we also know that you are a great constructor. The construction business is also your domain. So, many people in the diaspora are looking for places for vacation. We know that not only it will be open to missionaries, other people, but in terms of business also the diaspora would like to hear that you talk about this guesthouse. That way, they can leave from the United States, Canada, elsewhere… to come here, knowing that they have a place to stay. They know when they arrive at your guesthouse in Curacao, they will feel that they are Haiti; they will feel at home.

Well, the guesthouse is one of the motivations that we had when we arrived in this country. There were laws against Haitian immigrants where they would penalize someone who rented house to Haitians. They would charge them a 100,000 Florin as fine (equivalent to 50,000 US dollars). So when I got here, I found that many Haitians who were sleeping in the woods. It was a total humiliation, and that motivated us. We said that once we find works here, one thing that we are doing to do would be to build a place (a luga) like the people say in papiamento, a place where Haitians can feel proud and other nations also can see and consider us as people because it was one of the challenges I wanted to meet. Well, God allows us to work very hard (me and my wife) and then we could build a house. Within it, we built a guesthouse that’s truly appropriate, not only for the Haitian community when they have a problem, but also when missionaries, visitors and friends (coming from either Canada, the United States…) or people from the rest of the world visiting us in the country, there will be a place for them to stay. When cold weather beats them, Curacao is a country that really has a good climate. You see that, brother Védrine. The sea is beautiful. There are 32 beautiful beaches. There are nice places for vacation. There is beautiful sun, good wind to cool off, and I believe it's an appropriate place for people to come for vacation. This has motivated us to invest to see if we could make a guesthouse. We have reached the finish line now. I am happy for this interview. We don’t have a complicated name: my wife’s name is Jocelyne Joseph Jean-Baptiste; my name is Josias. That's why we named it Jojo's guesthouse. That is if you don't find Josias, you'll find Jocelyne anyhow.

For those who are interested, who would like to contact the guesthouse for prior reservations how does that work? Can they pay with their credit cards? How does that work in the diaspora?

Making reservations is easy. They will just email email or call us.

Thank you very much, compatriot, pastor Josias for this short interview! We will get back to you soon, God willing. So, we know that the diaspora will be very happy to be in touch with you. They will feel at home when they are you are in Curacao. Thank you! God Bless you!

Thank you very much!



(•) Charla Lingwista Haitiano Emmanuel W. Védrine na NAAM (Curacao). “On Haitian Creole  Bibliography, 200 years of publications”. Courtesy of Myriam Lavache (Kreyòl Pale, Kreyòl Konprann Institute of Spoken Kreyol. Curaçao; Richenel Ansano (Director of NAAM]; Yaniek Pinedo Védrine (translator). 2016.

(•) Curaçao welcomes Haiti’s President, Michel Martelly : Kiraso di bon bini a prezidan Ayisyen an,  Michel Martelly.

(•) Curaçao (Pais Kòrsou, Kòrsò): pictures, people and friends.

(•) Haitians’ presence and contribution to the society of Curaçao : Prezans ak Kontribisyon Ayisyen nan peyi Kiraso”].

(•) Konekte Dyaspora Ayisyen an ak bèl zile Kiraso.

(•) RATZLAFF, Betty. English /papiamentu Dictionary : Papiamentu /Ingles Dikshonario. Fundashon di Dikshonario TWR.

(•) Muriendo pa liberashon di Haiti. [Short story by Emmanuel W. Védrine Papiamento translation: Yaniek Pinedo Védrine].

(•) October 28, International Creole Day, and what?: 28 Oktòb, Jounen Entènasyonal Kreyòl, epi kisa?.

(•) Online Educational Resources for Haitian Teachers, Students, Schools in Haiti and in Diaspora
[Resous Edikasyonèl an Liy pou Anseyan Ayisyen, Elèv, Lekòl an Ayiti e nan Dyaspora]. Summary in : Rezime an: Deutsch • Español • Français • Kreyòl • Papiamento.

(•) Seyans oryantasyon pou motive Ayisyen.

(•) Sezon sechrès Ayiti. (2nd. ed.). JEBCA Editions.  224 p. [English summary : Resumé en anglais]. [© The author’s copyright : © Dwa otè a] . [© Lexical data (for hyper base software for dictionaries) : © Done leksikal (pou lojisyèl ipèbaz pou diksyonè)]. [In Papiamentu language, Temporada di sekura na Haiti. [First original Creole version was published in 1994: Soup to Nuts Publishers, Cambridge, MA. 1994. 128 p. [The novel has been translated to English by the author (Emmanuel W. Védrine). [Text in pdf format : Tèks an fòma pdf]. VEDCREP: Boston (edition, 2013, 163 p. [“In Sezon sechrès Ayiti, the author presents a Haiti the way it exists through the eyes of characters. Sezon sechrès Ayiti is a historical novel written in the Haitian language and one that is written in a simple language, presented in a historical, political and economic context: what happened in Haiti, what happened recently, and what continues to happen. The philosophy and psychology of the people are about the same: they all would like to see a beautiful Haiti, one where everyone can work together. They are victims of the drought, of the crimes going on in the country and o abuses done to them. They are leaving Haiti for same causes though they like the country but the situation forces them to leave. Despite of all the crimes and abuses committed to them, they don't ask for anything wrong to happen to the criminals, but they would like them give up all that is evil, they would like them to change so that there can be a real change in the country.


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