"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 Simon of Timkatec.
|Timkatec 3 for girls is complete and the interior is being built out|
Father Joseph started Timkatec Center "Timoun k'ap teke chans" ("Children who try their luck to survive") in Petion-Ville, just outside of Port au Prince, over 10 years ago. He has built its mission up over the years to the point that it now supports over 100 children today. He scours the teeming streets of Port au Prince for homeless and abandoned children, some as young as 5 years old. Others present themselves at the center and he will not turn them away.
"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
Before, when they were between 12 and 16 years old, many of these children had fire arms, and they knew how to use them for "protecting themselves", they said to the priest. The working methodology of Timkatec is based on two pillars: education and professional training. In this way, the child learns to be aware of his talents, his personality, nature's beauty and of his real limits.
The center provides them with food, shelter and basic education. Over 50% of the children also participate in a vocational training program that the center established with businesses in the community. Through this program, boys and girls are taught such skills as mechanics, electrical wiring and sewing. Some notable achievements have been made, including improvements in the children's health, literacy skills and self-esteem. This has garnered them a reputation as hard working and responsible and has decreased the number of crimes in the area. In certain cases, some children have been reunited with their families.
"The nation belongs to the young people; whoever they and wherever they come from. It is the future professionals, technicians, artisans and farmers who must save Haiti. These street children of today will play their part in the Haiti of tomorrow. Let us make them prepared that they may make that change." Father Simon of Timkatec
It's with pride that Father Simon tells that 30 of his kids are placed in four garages where they learn auto mechanics. Others, after obtaining their certificate for successfully finalizing primary school, are sent to the Salesian Brothers in downtown Port-au-Prince.
What Father did not tell me, but I learned from various sources, is that he started this mission at the age of 65 when most people are retired, and is currently a vigorous 75 years old whose faith in its ultimate success remains absolute. He is a Haitian, who accepted his vocation in 1953, and was ordained as a Salesian priest 41 years ago.
Plans for training workshops.
But his project does not stop here. He is building a 2 story facility with its own internal workshops and classrooms, where the young people will have a choice of training as plumbers, metal workers, elcetriciams or tool makers- all essential trades in a developing economy. He will hire his own journeyman instructors to train the youngsters- 4 instructors all on a total 3 year salary budget that is less than one teacher's annual salary would be in the USA.
The dedicated staff at Timkatec boys' shelter in Petion-Ville, a hilltop town a few miles above Port-au-Prince that has been subsumed by decades of slum expansion, also try to restore their wards' sense of humanity by training them to care for plants and pets." Save the Children Canada
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