Ti Jean – 1971-2006
Jean Gabriel Fils, known widely and affectionately as Ti Jean, died on May 28 in Central Haiti, where he had lived all his life.
Ti Jean had been part of the foundation of Partners In Health/Zanmi Lasante since the organization’s early days almost 20 years ago. More recently, as director of the Program on Social and Economic Rights (POSER) he had laid the foundations for literally hundreds of new homes for patients and others living in destitution. In 2003, Ti Jean received the Thomas J. White Prize presented annually at the PIH Symposium in honor of his work.
PIH co-founder Paul Farmer delivered a eulogy at Ti Jean's funeral, attended by more than 1000 friends, family and supporters at L'Eglise Bon Sauveur in Cange, Haiti.
During what proved to be his final visit to Boston in February, Ti Jean spoke enthusiastically about the 110 houses he had built in 2005, the 157 on his docket in early 2006, and his ambition to build a million homes before he died.
PIH Executive Director Ophelia Dahl paid tribute to Ti Jean in a message to staff announcing his death:
"The 'Ti' in front of his name refers to the diminutive," she wrote, "yet Ti Jean was anything but little. He was an enormous presence both physically and morally, a major force in the struggle for social justice. And he worked tirelessly on behalf of those in his community who lived at the bottom of the pile."
"He was a builder of houses but also of a better future and, as a result, he provided hope for countless people living in rural Haiti. He has left a giant hole. But we, as a team, will rely on his inspiration and endeavor to honor the memory of his life by continuing his work."
Ti Jean was 35 years old at the time of his death and left 11 children.
Partners In Health has established a fund to support Ti Jean’s children and family, who relied on his financial support as we all relied on his leadership and inspiration.
To contribute to the fund, send a check made out to Partners In Health with ‘Ti Jean Memorial Fund’ in the memo line to PIH, 641 Huntington Ave., Boston MA, 02115. Contributions can also be made online using a credit card. Just click on the "Donate to PIH" link at the top of this page and select "Donate Online" from the options at the left of the next page. On the donation form page, select "Ti Jean Memorial Fund" from the drop-down list of programs. You may also click the checkbox to specify "My donation is a tribute to someone special" and, on a subsequent page, designate Ti Jean as the special person in whose honor you are making the donation.
All donations so designated will be used to support Ti Jean’s family and to continue his lifework of building houses for Haiti’s poor.
Ti Jean and Paul Farmer
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Ti Jean on a construction site