June 30, 2005
Dear "Friends of Timkatec in Haiti":
ďThe children can now see the difference between their past existence on the street and their present existence at Timkatec. To be sheltered from bad situations is a good opportunity. Sleeping in a room on a real bed is a luxury, eating 3 times a day is not a given to everyone in Haiti." Father Joseph Simon of Timkatec
|Patrick O'Shea, Father Simon, Karen Coakley, Mike Spinelli, and Dula James (Head CRS-Haiti)|
Three of us from the Friends of Timkatec, Mike Spinelli Karen and myself, visited Timkatec from March 19-22. Our extensive itinerary commenced the moment we stepped of the plane and were met by Father Simon of Timkatec, and Dula James and Sheyla of CRS. We paid our own costs and also brought some immediate help, with us several suitcases filled with items requested by Father, 50 T Shirts, 4 electrical testers, 12 pairs of glasses, 150 personal hygiene sets of toothbrushes, paste and soap, various medicines and other items. Fortunately we were taken through Customs with the CRS team and were able to deliver all of the goods to Timkatec. We also presented Father Joseph with an immediate needs check for $300 raised by Girl Scout Troop 3 In Memphis, Tenn. A true children to children effort.
We arrived on Palm Sunday eve, expecting a quiet dinner arranged with the Salesian fathers. Instead, Sabine Manigat, Timkatec Director, and the entire staff with 37 resident and 109-day children, were there to welcome us as guests at the evening meal. It was unexpected and very heart warming. I addressed the group talking about the Friendsí desire to help, the generous help of All Souls, Sanford, and the strong financial support already given and committed for the future. We went to Mass on Palm Sunday officiated by Father Simon, with the Timkatec children present.
Many of these children have the quiet demeanor and sad look of those to whom the world has not been kind. One senses they are not sure whether their present good fortune at Timkatec is here to stay. As street children, they were on the bottom rung in the poorest country in the Hemisphere, with per capita annual income of less $400. Now they eat 2-3 times daily, rice and beans and some plantains, occasionally with chicken or meat. But it is food. And they have some medical care-- a quiet place to sleep- and the chance to pull themselves out of the desperate life they were in. Many were abandoned at 6 or 7 years old-impossible for us to imagine. At Timkatec, they sleep in cramped rooms on double bunks-with a foot or so in between, hooks in the wall for their clothes- but they are safe and dry. They are the lucky ones who have support from people like you.
Timkatec 2 - Under Construction, March 2005
We then went to see the new Training Centre being constructed, Timkatec 2 - entirely funded by the Friends with support from CRS. The foundation is now laid and the walls are going up. When complete in October, it will train 200 young people annually for a trade. Training is for 2 years as plumbers, electricians, metal workers, tailors and carpenters.
Fatherís plan first rescues them from the cruel streets, rebuilds their physical health, then focuses on their spiritual health and education, rebuilds their faith in humanity and finally makes them self-supporting members of their community. Your generous support will help to achieve and maintain that dream. The Friends have pledged to raise the funds to pay the 10 teachers needed to achieve that objective, about $25,000 annually for 3 years. CRS has agreed to assist in the administration of the funds and oversight of the construction
We are all world travelers, but were overwhelmed by our experience. As we were leaving, an emotional Mike Spinelli presented Father Joseph with over $1,000 in unused Travelers checks for immediate needs, and a VCR/DVD player for instructional and recreational use.
More of the children at the Timkatec building meeting the friends
Some of the children at the welcome dinner for the "Friends"
Father Simonís philosophy can be summed up as follows:
"Our experience shows us that these young children are normal children endowed with normal qualities and failings. Let us give them a chance and the means to cultivate these natural gifts while we endeavor to cure some of their failings.† It is fundamental to show children that one loves them and 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 educate in any way." Father Simon of Timkatec.
It is hard for us to imagine ourselves in such a difficult situation. At least, we can give our support to this wonderful man, a Catholic priest for almost 50 years, now 77 years old, who dedicates himself to such a worthy cause. His entire staff under Sabine Manigat are equally dedicated. They provide these lost children with renewed faith, structure, discipline, an education and stability. And your generous support helps immensely to do this. We were all deeply impressed with Ms Dula James CRS Head for Haiti and her wonderful CRS staff working through the extraordinary challenges of the last several years in this most unfortunate country.
Patrick J. O'Shea, Founder
Mike Spinelli, Co-Founder
Friends of Timkatec in America
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