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Timkatec Children's Center

"Nothing prepares you for the poverty of Haiti."

— Patrick O'Shea, longtime friend of CRS

A 79-year-old man travels the streets of Port-au-Prince and rescues young children dumped on the streets by life's cruelest circumstances. Some of the boys are orphaned and some abandoned by parents who can no longer care for them, or have no desire to do so. The children sleep on sidewalks alongside streets strewn with sewage.

Father Joseph Simon, a retired priest, has opened his boundless heart to these youngsters and provided a safe haven from the dangers of Port-au-Prince in his refuge, called Timkatec.

Partners in Child Survival

The children of Timkatec, June 2006

The children of Timkatec, June 2006.

Because Father Simon will not say "no" to any boy trying to survive under horrific conditions, the orphanage is so crowded now that the boys sleep in shifts. With great care, Father Simon and his staff make sure the kids have the opportunity to break out of a bad life. Each child at Timkatec is fed, educated and provided with medical attention when necessary.

Timkatec is co-funded by the Friends of Timkatec and Catholic Relief Services.

Training, Structure, Discipline and Opportunity

In June 2006 Father Simon opened Timkatec 2, a facility for boys, age 14 and older, to receive further vocational training. The facility is a clean but simple concrete structure. The spare building is used for training and also hosts Mass on Sundays.

"It is fundamental to show children that one loves them and that one really wants to help them."

— Father Joseph Simon

Michel's Story

The nurturing environment and technical training provided at Timkatec have led to the personal and professional growth of many of its young graduates. Michel is one of them. Michel was born in a town on the southern coast of Haiti. When Michel was 11 he was taken in by a group of nuns. In 1999, the sisters asked Father Simon to continue his education. Michel came to live at Timkatec.

Michel Maximin

Michel Maximin works at a sewing machine.

A vocational training program was started at the school in 2004 through support of the Friends of Timkatec. Thanks to the program, Michel was able to receive training. While getting a formal education, Michel will also graduate as a professional tailor at the end of the 2007 school year.

Even though Michel's father has never visited him at Timkatec, those who care for Michel say he has grown into a very strong and wonderful young man. With the values instilled in him at the school, the staff say Michel never forgot his family.

Because of the generosity of compassionate donors and the guidance from Father Simon, Michel will travel back to his community and work a sewing machine so he can provide his professional services to his hometown.

Timkatec Trades

Timkatec 2 offers young men like Michel training in:

  • Tailoring
  • Home electricity
  • Plumbing
  • Masonry
  • Metal work
  • Shoe cobbling

A student's apprenticeship lasts two years. The budget for one school year is $54,000 for 270 students. $270 can educate one child for one year at Timkatec.

Portrait of Compassion

Patrick O'Shea knows the pain and fear of being an orphan. He was born just outside London during World War II. Patrick's mother was killed during an air raid in 1943. His father, who went to fight overseas, died in a tuberculosis outbreak. Patrick told us, "Their deaths had profound impact on my life."

After his mother's death, when he was 3, Mr. O'Shea was sent off to a boarding school. He credits the headmaster for providing a good balance of discipline and compassion. Patrick continued, "I can't imagine being as young as 5 years old and having nowhere to go. I had a decent boarding school that looked after my needs. I was kept safe and sheltered. I just can't fathom how it must feel for [Haitian] children who have absolutely nothing to fall back on."

"Mr. O'Shea's charitable initiative will help make a lasting difference in Haiti. It is a marvelous expression of solidarity, concern and call to action."

— Jed Hoffman, CRS staff

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