Man on a mission
From street kid in Haiti to transmission line engineer with Leidos, Ebenson Verdule is determined to make a difference.
“When I arrived in the U.S., I wanted nothing more than to live the American Dream. But as I reflected upon my personal journey, it was impossible to ignore the feeling that life had something even more in store for me."
Ebenson Verdule has come a long way since his days as a child on the streets in Haiti. From his home on a quiet cul-de-sac in Florida, he and his wife, Ekaterina, have their hands full with four children, the youngest of whom recently turned two. As a Leidos transmission line engineer, he enjoys a challenging career helping electric utilities deliver reliable power to consumers. And when he needs to wind down, Ebenson tends to a grove of orange and lemon trees in his backyard.
Facing adversity, finding skills
Ebenson stands out from many in that he endured a lifetime of adversity before reaching his teenage years. He grew up in Port-de-Paix, a coastal village of northern Haiti. "My father left the country to find work and never returned, leaving my mom to raise four young children on her own.” With extremely limited access to food and no prospects for work, Ebenson and his siblings were frequently on the brink of starvation. At the age of seven, he turned to the streets hoping to stave off hunger.
During the years when children typically attend elementary school, Ebenson was learning how to survive. "Life on the streets required constant awareness of my surroundings, especially at night. When the sun went down, groups of kids banded together to find safe places to sleep and to protect each other."
Life improved when Ebenson was reunited with his father in Florida who helped him transition to a new life there. "I had no education before getting off the street,” he recalled. “It was surprising to discover that I’d picked up skills in math, critical thinking, and attention to detail on the streets, which helped me excel academically." With no formal education, Ebenson had to start kindergarten at age 12. He graduated from high school just seven years later and went on to earn a degree in civil engineering and land a job with an electric utility.
Gaining opportunity, giving back
Today, as a Leidos transmission line engineer, Ebenson continues to advance his skills in power delivery. Having joined the company just days before work from home restrictions took effect under the COVID-19 pandemic, tapping the talent and enthusiasm of the Leidos community has been a constant source of inspiration. “I was welcomed with open arms by a community of colleagues who are passionate about helping each other achieve success,” he said. “There is endless opportunity here to learn and grow both professionally and personally, which is fulfilling on many levels and motivates me to go above and beyond in all of my assignments.”
Ebenson knew from the start that Leidos was the right place for him. “On my second day with the company, a colleague walked into my office and, using perfect Haitian Creole, said ‘Good morning! How are you doing?’” This made Ebenson feel especially welcome and the two developed a quick rapport. His colleague – who happened to be the leader of the entire transmission line engineering section – explained that he knew the language because he had spent time in Haiti supporting a mission. “To have something so unique in common with a new colleague gave me an instant sense of belonging.”
As it turns out, the connection went far beyond language: Ebenson had experience working on his own Haitian mission. Ebenson is the founder and operator of Mercyland Christian Mission in his hometown of Port-de-Paix. “Once I got to the United States, returning to Haiti was not part of my plan,” he stated. But he found himself frequently thinking about the plight of Haitian children. “I had the fortune to discover potential in myself that I didn’t know existed and I realized that I had to find a way to help those children find their potential and take advantage of their own opportunities,” he recalled.
Since opening the doors of Mercyland in 2013, Ebenson and the Mercyland staff and volunteers have transformed the lives of some of the most vulnerable and neglected children in the area. They are constantly working to expand the mission to help rescue as many children as possible. “Our goal is to help raise a generation of Haitians who have the education, support, and skills to build a dynamic and sustainable community,” he said. “Self-reliance will be the ultimate measure of their success.”
Finding balance at Leidos
As Ebenson’s journey unfolds, he considers Leidos a catalyst for a balanced life. “My colleagues recognize both my career ambitions and passion to help the children of Haiti. The entire Leidos team has been very supportive of me, and they have enabled me to dedicate myself to delivering top quality solutions for my utility customers as well as my ongoing work to improve conditions in my hometown.”