Walking with Timor-Leste on the road to prosperity
Many ordinary things, in many ordinary places done by ordinary people, can change the world
Every country’s future is in the hands of its children. In the case of Timor-Leste, a young nation stepping out from the darkness of conflict, education is vital. Half the population are under eighteen and on third of them under eight. A quarter of the teachers are volunteers. The Loreto Sisters, with the support of generous donors, are planning to break the cycle of poverty one student at a time.
The Loreto Sisters recognise the particular gift which Mary Ward, their founder, gave to the world. Mary and her followers believed in equality for women and education for all. Despite persecution and opposition, they persevered so that these ideals and values could prevail.
Responding to a request by the Bishop and the local people of Gari-uai, a small, remote village located approximately 150 kilometres from the capital Dili, the Loreto Sisters began a project to educate children and provide a place for the community to learn new skills and receive support.
In 2016 the Loreto Sisters started the construction of a Preschool and Community centre, but it has been a mix of highs and lows with building disputes delaying the construction for some months. These challenges have recently been resolved and the building will be completed early next year.
In the meantime, the interim Loreto Pre-Primary School is progressing well with the two local teachers, Sonia and Jovita, continuing to develop new skills under the leadership of Sister Diaan Stuart.
In early September the Loreto Kirribilli Junior School Principal, Alison Brent, accompanied by another teacher, Gabby Smith, visited Gari-uai to work with Sister Diaan to determine how best they can provide in-service training to the teachers and their two assistants.
Throughout the year Sisters Natalie Houlihan and Francine Roberts have supported the Grade 1 teachers in the local government primary school. A strong relationship has been established with staff at the school and the hope is this support will continue with the Grade 2 teachers next year.
Living in Gari-uai is challenging. Despite Gari-uai being only 15 kilometres south of Baucau the roads are such that it is a 30-minute drive. Being without water on tap the community is dependent on a tanker to deliver water every week. The community consumes whatever food is seasonally available in the local markets; the staple food of the Timorese being rice and water spinach known as kankun.
Thank you for supporting us on this journey to make a sustainable difference by helping the children of Gari-uai receive an education that will undoubtedly impact the lives of future generations.