Built on the Next Generation:
Fortinel & Jhony Faustin
Fortinel and Jhony Faustin were preteens when their family moved to Naples from Mare Rouge, Haiti in search of a better life. They made due in a crowded apartment until they learned about homeownership through Habitat Collier.
“Moving made things a lot easier.” says Fortinel. “It freed our parents as far as the financial burden and they were able to do more and help us out more.”
They say moving into a new neighborhood with kids their age and switching schools changed their lives for the better. After earning a degree in Business Management, Fortinel turned to teaching as a way to give back. Now, he’s a history teacher at Golden Gate High.
During one summer break, he visited Haiti.
“When I went back… it broke my heart. I started to think—how can we do something significant to help people down there?” he says. “What if we took (tuition) off the hands of the parents?”
And so the Faustin Project was born.
They started raising funds and contributing their own money, eventually incorporating as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
The next summer, Fortinel returned to Haiti and spent long days riding his motorcycle around Mare Rouge handpicking families who needed their help. Now, 40 children have received scholarships from the Faustin Project.
“Our parents really instilled in us our attitude and our drive as far as why we do everything we do,” says Johny. “It’s because of our parents, the type of people they were.”
The brothers appreciate the similarities between the hand-up their family got and the work they are doing. While they credit their mother’s drive and father’s vision with shaping who they are as men, they know the stability of their Habitat home was a big factor.
“I probably wouldn’t be here if I didn’t move to that house,” says Fortinel. “And it’s still doing a lot for us. If it wasn’t for the Habitat house, I wouldn’t be able to do all of these things.”