Educating the Children of Timor-Leste
Triplets Tricia, Tresia and Tracia, pictured above, live in the remote area of Gari-uai in Timor-Leste, a 25 minute drive from the town of Baucau. Their grandmother, Agrefina, has never received an education. She lived through 24 years of Indonesian occupation which left most of the country’s infrastructure, including housing, irrigation, schools and almost the entire electricity grid destroyed.
The new nation of Timor-Leste emerged in 2002 as the world’s first sovereign nation born in the 21st Century. The triplets are now living in a time of renewed hope and optimism.
Having worked in Baucau since 2006, the Loreto Sisters celebrated their first anniversary in August in Gari-uai. This came about because of an invitation by the local people and the Bishop, to assist in providing quality education and a pastoral presence among the people. MWIA is proud to be supporting this project as we aim to enable women and children to receive the education and skills necessary to transform their lives.
The Loreto Sisters have been welcomed wholeheartedly into the community and during this time have formed strong relationships with the people.
Having had to work through various challenges they are delighted to see Phase 1 of the project well underway with the opening of the Loreto Pre-Primary School in temporary facilities on 1 June 2015. In October the ground will be broken for the construction of the permanent Pre-Primary School and Community Centre.
The Gari-uai community is excited about the opportunities the Community Centre will offer. The community has shown a strong interest in learning more in the areas of information technology, literacy, music and sewing and this centre will provide a space where ideas can be shared and support given.
The interim Loreto Pre-Primary School offers two classes, each with 24 students, and a play-group of 16 for the younger children.
One of the teachers, Mestra Sonia, who is nearing the end of her pregnancy, said that even though she is becoming more tired she finds that teaching is a source of pleasure for her.
Another teacher, Mestra Jovita, who teaches the children in the pre-primary school explains that “from my teaching experiences I am becoming a more confident educator.” There are also teacher aides who are learning on the job.
Loreto in Gari-uai aims to provide a quality Catholic education, emphasising the values of freedom, justice, sincerity, verity and joy. The young graduates selected to teach at Loreto Pre-Primary were initially sent to St. Agnes Primary School at Mt. Gravatt in Brisbane to observe student centred teaching methodology and behaviour management. Time spent there is now bearing fruit with the teachers interacting sensitively and constructively with the children.
The local community, the Department of Education and various Government Departments are all integral to the project’s growth. The Loreto Sisters in Timor-Leste are extremely thankful for the ongoing support of all our donors involved in realising this dream. Together we can help educate the children of Gari-uai!