The following is a news release from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Canada Newsroom.
Although Sophia Francois Lundy may describe herself as a mother, wife, construction general contractor, sister and friend, she might best be described as a builder. Lundy, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Montreal, is passionate about building a better world. She has forged a career in the construction industry and is working to create a world where women can live safely and be who they are.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 in Canada is “Every Woman Counts.” Lundy wants every woman to build her best life. She believes “that this will require our best efforts to create a world where each person and every woman counts.”
Lundy plans to celebrate International Women’s Day but notes that doing so is particularly hard for her this year. She is currently helping several women whom she cares about deeply who have been displaced because of gang violence in Haiti.
“This celebration matters to me in a way that it pushes me to do more, to be more. Not all women worldwide can celebrate this day,” she says.
Lundy knows there is a lot of work ahead to lift women and find solutions to the issues that greatly impact them. If the world is to be a better place, then we need to address issues that face women, like “childcare, health care, immigration, refugeeism, wars, violence and disease,” she explains. Women’s voices matter on these and all other issues.
Lundy hopes that on International Women’s Day, people will reflect on how they might work collectively to build better homes, communities, cities and nations where all women count — “immigrant women, Haitian women, Black women, rich and poor, old and young, disabled, religious or non.”
‘I Learned on the Best Playground’
Lundy was born and raised in Haiti. Although she was raised with very little, she says, “I learned to be creative and brave. I learned on the best playground.”
As a young adult, she moved to New York City for school and was there when Haiti experienced a massive earthquake in 2010. Her mother encouraged her to return home to help with rebuilding efforts.
Lundy did return to Haiti and worked for the Catholic Relief Services, managing their emergency office. She assisted with programs to help displaced families and children. She also volunteered with a coalition of nongovernmental organizations as a liaison with the government to co-ordinate relief efforts.
‘Service Fills My Soul’
Lundy’s experience in Haiti left her with a deep desire to help people affected by natural disasters. In 2012, after moving back to New York City, she found herself repairing homes after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey neighbourhoods. While serving as a Latter-day Saint missionary in Paraguay in 2014–2015, Lundy once again volunteered to help local community members build and repair their homes.
After meeting her husband, they worked together as student interns for the FEMA Disaster Worker Program with DSW Homes. In 2017, they helped build more than 30 homes after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas.
“I always find myself working and volunteering in disaster-ravaged cities or countries or the aftermath,” Lundy says. “I am passionate about helping people. Service fills my soul in a way that nothing else has.”
Career in the Construction Industry
When asked why she chose a construction career, Lundy says, “I never chose the construction industry; the construction industry chose me.” As a student at BYU–Idaho, she followed a prompting and took construction classes instead of economics as planned. This eventually led her to complete a bachelor of science in construction management.
One of the most interesting building projects Lundy participated in happened because of a school internship program. While working on the Missionary Training Center buildings in Provo, Utah, she met some architects working for the Church who were impressed that she spoke Haitian Creole and understood International Building Standards. They invited her to work on the Port-au-Prince Haiti Temple.
Lundy says that the construction industry has opened doors she never thought would be open to her and has given her opportunities to be closer to God.
‘Construction Heals Me’
Lundy admits that the construction field is very hard emotionally and physically, but it allows her to be part of the solution. She says, “Construction heals me. It heals my hurt of seeing so much natural and man-made devastation worldwide. Through construction, I can help, I can serve, I can make a living, and I can build myself and others.”
Whenever construction workers start a new project, Lundy notes that they begin by “digging up dirt.” The earth is removed to allow the building of strong foundations on which to later erect buildings. This process of preparing strong foundations is essential both to work in construction and to the work of building a relationship with God.
Working Together for a Better World
Working in construction has helped Lundy understand the importance of partnerships in building and in life. She and her husband are building not only a business together but a family. They both bring their unique skills and talents to this partnership and to raising their two sons.
When speaking about global partnerships, Lundy said, “When we work together, much good can be accomplished. Together, people can resolve difficult problems and socioeconomic inequalities.” She knows it will take both men and women to solve these problems, so, she says, “It is everyone’s duty to make sure that women’s voices are included and are heard.”