"It is fundamental to show children that one loves them and that one really wants to help them. The rest goes automatically. It is also a work of justice towards these children whose physical, intellectual and moral development is jeopardized by a life without affection, without guidance, without constraint, without obligation. The street cannot be educative in any way."-Father Joseph Simon, Founder/Director - Timkatec schools
MARCH 27th UPDATE
THE FRIENDS OF TIMKATEC WAS FOUNDED TEN YEARS AGO
TO HELP THE POOREST OF THE POOR IN HAITI
THE TRIUMPHS AND TRIBULATIONS OF THOSE TEN YEARS
We saw Haiti battered by hurricanes, floods, massive food shortages, political upheaval, the worst earthquake ever in the western Hemisphere and a raging cholera epidemic. In this 10 years historical update to the Timkatec.org website we hope to walk you through the extraordinary success that Timkatec has achieved despite all of the above.
The start of this journey
I read about Father Simon and Timkatec in the Orlando Sentinel in March 2004. It was a time of change in the life of the O’Shea family and we decided to see what we could do to help Father Joseph Simon realize his dream of offering an opportunity to the “ street children” of Petion-Ville learn a trade and become self-sufficient. Timkatec 1, then 10 years old, had 100 students in Primary school-50 living in the orphanage and 50 day students. At 12 year old they were back on the street to make way for more. Timkatec 2, as we decided to call it would change that by offering training in three trades initially.
- The website designed by Tara O’Shea was launched in June 2004.
- Our initial goal was to raise $15,000 to be matched by Catholic Relief Services.
- That 2004 goal was well exceeded in November 2004 and CRS also raised their stake so building could commence.
- Obtaining materials during the civil unrest of the time was a challenge, but by May 2005 when Mike Spinelli and I visited, construction was under way.
- It was in fits and starts, frequently waiting for imported materials, but by 2006 the Timkatec 2 structure was finally complete.
Our initial goal was accomplished. We saw the stark outline of this unpainted building, unfinished inside, and Fr Simon’s enthusiasm encouraged us to raise funds for the build out. We also committed to pay for the initial instructors who would teach a 2 year course to student plumbers, electricians and masons.
- That first year 2006, 70 kids enrolled. In 2008 we and other were able to raise sufficient funds to increase to 150 students adding the trades of tailor and shoemaker.
- June 2008 was a special month-our first graduation-15 young artisans. June 2009 saw 57 graduates and Timkatec was well under way in its growth plan.
Construction of Timkatec 3, the Primary and Trade schools for girls had been started in 2008 across from Timkatec 1, the boy's orphanage. This was completely funded by the Ben and Diane Plett of Winnipeg Canada through their Jasmine Foundation supported by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). This also fulfilled another dream of Father Simon to offer "street children" unable to go to school, a safe dry overnight shelter and meal.
In September 2009, Timkatec 3 opened with great celebration, its first classes for girls. The Timkatec plan was working and the three Timkatec schools had 440 kids enrolled for the September 2009-2010 school year, a dramatic increase from the 100 kids just 4 years earlier. It seemed that nothing could slow Timkatec down.
The earthquake and Cholera epidemic
But, on January 12, 2010 catastrophe struck. The worst earthquake in history to strike the Western Hemisphere. The Haitian Government has reported that 316,000 people lost their lives, 300,000 were injured and 1 million became homeless. Much of the countries' leadership and limited institutions and infrastructure, including the Presidential Palace, Parliament Building and National Cathedral were destroyed along with the UN Headquarters, countless hospitals, schools and other essential services.
The 2004 hurricanes has killed 9000 and 2008 floods over 1000 but nothing could prepare a country of 9 million for the loss of over 3% of its population, injuries to another 3% and with 11% losing their livelihood and residences-in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. A further result was to come as Haiti then suffered a terrible cholera outbreak that has killed another 10,000 as well as sickening over 700,000 since the earthquake. A further 8% of the population.
Timkatec lost one teacher and 100 kids. We will never know exactly how many died or were severely injured as so many of the people the capital fled to the countryside but the loss was heavy. People were afraid to enter their house as the aftershocks continued for over months.
However, in March 2010 Timkatec reopened its doors-one month before any other school opened in Port au Prince Father Simon was the force behind this. We had 340 kids enrolled, 100 less than before the earthquake.
We were approached by many donors including Tommy Stinson, founder of The Replacements and member of Guns N Roses. He came to the 2010 graduation and was so impressed that held had a charity auction that raised $40,000 to add a third story to Timkatec 2, to increase its students to 240. Concurrently Ben and Diane Plett funded a third storey for Timkatec 3, so they could increase from 150 to 240 students plus capacity for 80 in the shelter. Timkatec could now educate- 650 kids if funds were available.
Over the years of 2011 and 2012, Haiti started to recover and the 1 million people living in tents and camps was slowly reduced to an about 100,000 by year end 2013.
- In 2011 we celebrated 71 graduates from Timkatec 2.
- In 2012 a joint graduation from all three schools took place with 130 kids graduating.
- Tommy’s second charity auction paid for tools for all Timkatec 2 students graduating in 2013.
- In July 2013, Mike and Patrick attended the graduation of 135 boys and girls from Timkatec 2 and Timkatec 3—a marvelous tribute to the staffs of both schools, and a dignified event to launch these young people into the world.
THE PRESENT CHALLENGES
Our current problem as we face the next decade is that so many of the intuitional supporters of Timkatec over the year have, for various reasons ceased their support.
- The US Government USAID Food Aid program ceased in 2012 and as a result, Timkatec lost $40,000 per year in Food Aid.
- The funds from the French State foundation, Fondation France, ceased its support following a change in the French Presidency. Timkatec lost $45,000 in support.
- Some US churches during the Great Recession ceased International support as they focused on US residents. Timkatec annual donations dropped approximately $10,000.
- Some US Foundations that had supported Haiti in the past have focused their recent efforts in the USA. Timkatec had received about $10,000 annualy in such support through 2011.
The Challenge to our donors
The loss of approximately $100,000 in annual aid from the above caused Timkatec to stay at its former size. It does not have the food and other resources to fill its schools and feed the poor students. It owns the properties; fine building with fine teachers, but it lacks money for food and equipment to add another 150 students. We are hope these two events, the 20 Year Anniversary of Timkatec and the 10 Year Anniversary of The Friends of Timkatec will encourage current and new supporters who can review two decades of steady progress by Father Simon, his staff and his students.
Please keep Timkatec in your thoughts this Easter and donate to this most worthy cause.
The Patrick O’Shea and Mike Spinelli families
Founders of the Friends of Timkatec
"Timkatec receives many admission requests, however they do not have room to accept them all. It is difficult to refuse a child who comes at night, in the rain, asking for a small place to sleep. In those instances, children sleep on the floor, sometimes with only a blanket, sometimes without even that. A rotation system was established, in order to allow children to sleep in beds on a schedule." Father Joseph Simon of Timkatec