Tek4Kids overcomes challenges to serve Haiti

Elementary school children in Jérémie, Haiti, worked on laptops provided by Tek4Kids. (Photo Special to The Record)

Gary Boice started serving the people of Haiti close to 20 years ago, and neither natural disasters, a pandemic nor escalating violence on the island nation has made him look back.

Boice is the founder of Tek4Kids, a nonprofit that partners with schools in Jérémie, Haiti, to bring technology into the classrooms and clean water to the community. 

The goal is breaking the poverty cycle and empowering future leaders, said Boice, a member of the Cathedral of the Assumption.

Tek4Kids started in 2011 by providing computers and computer skills training in Haiti. Now, it partners with six schools, including two high schools, and provides 3,700 children with clean water each day. The schools have laptops and are in the process of installing interactive projectors, said Boice.

During a recent interview, Gary Boice’s son Michael, who works with him in Haiti, said the events of the past year and a half have aggravated already dire circumstances for Haitians.

He and his father were there when the island was struck by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in August 2021, just days before a tropical storm passed through. Weeks before that was the assassination of President Jovenel Moise. 

Gary Boice, left, and his son Michael Boice operate Tek4Kids, a nonprofit that provides clean water and incorporates computers into classrooms in Jérémie, Haiti. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Up until last fall, “It was bad everywhere, primarily Port-au-Prince (the capital), which was controlled by gangs. There was no fuel, hardly any food and what was available was extremely expensive,” said Michael Boice. 

These problems arose amid the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic lockdown began in 2020, the Boices returned home. But Michael Boice went back six months later, and Tek4Kids provided purified water for hundreds of people of Jérémie during the pandemic, he said.  

Gary Boice has also lived through two attempted kidnappings — a crime that has become common across that country. 

Despite these challenges, the Boices persist, and they’re clear about why.

Tek4Kids is “making a difference” and moreover, “I’m a Franciscan. We’re led to do that,” said Gary Boice. He is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, St. Joseph of Cupertino Fraternity, at Mount St. Francis in Southern Indiana. 

Before becoming a Franciscan, “I would have been happy to donate money only.” Now he sees the value of being present to and serving the people, he said. 

His son Michael said he was born into a “stable, loving family,” where he had everything he needed.

 “I’ve seen the difference that makes,” he said. “It’s absurd that people live in these dire situations. I’m just trying to balance the scales.” 

A student wrote on the screen of an interactive projector at an elementary school in Jérémie, Haiti. The nonprofit Tek4Kids is providing the projector for the schools it serves. (Photo Special to The Record)

Gary Boice noted that a volatile economy and threat of violence have caused donations to decrease. But Tek4Kids is doing more than ever.

They’ve installed solar panels on the roofs of the schools they serve. Harnessing the sun’s power along with portable batteries has helped to keep the schools open despite a scarcity of electricity, they said.  

In 2015, Tek4Kids branched out to open the St. Francis School of Technology, a six-month program that prepares students to work in the information technology field. It started with 24 students and has now graduated 200. 

Michael Boice said preparing young people to find employment is beneficial in more ways than one. Not only will it give them a chance at a better future, but it also has the potential to keep them away from a life of crime and reduce violence.

“After high school, there aren’t many opportunities and gangs are appealing because it provides what people need,” he said.

Tek4Kids is currently training teachers in technology and teaching methods. The nonprofit is also planning to integrate science, engineering and math into the curriculum.

Gary Boice said he hopes to one day make Jérémie the “Tech center of Haiti.”

To learn more about Tek4Kids and the work the Boices are doing, visit tek4kids.org.

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Ruby Thomas
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One reply on “Tek4Kids overcomes challenges to serve Haiti”
  1. says: Serge

    Keep up the good work,one of the best approach to combat gangs violence in Haiti by putting education in their mind not guns in their hands .

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