Watch our brief project video below
Loreto Ostico Building Project
Partner | Fundacao Loreto Timor-Leste
Location | Ostico, Timor-Leste
Building a community centre and residence for the Loreto Sisters in the village of Ostico will enable the sisters to take part in the community’s life and make a lasting contribution to its educational, economic and human development.
The Loreto Sisters have faithfully served the people of Timor-Leste since 2006. Having successfully built a pre-school and a community development centre in Gari-Uai, they now plan to assist the neighbouring village of Ostico.
With an estimated population of 1700 people, the village of Ostico will work alongside the Loreto Sisters on a range of initiatives that promote their basic human rights, including the right to education.
Investing in education helps individuals achieve their potential and leads to positive changes within the community and the social fabric of a nation. Improved educational attainment promotes economic growth and employment opportunities, results in healthier families and communities, reduces infant and maternal mortality rates, and leads to empowerment and greater socio-political involvement.
Timor-Leste has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. National lockdowns and movement restrictions within the country have slowed down the supply of materials, resulting in delays to the project construction schedule.
The local builder continues to work with the project manager and engineering consultant to ensure construction is completed by early 2023. With the project near completion, the roof structures are in place, external walls are rendered and work will soon begin on the internal aspects of the building.
The success of this project will allow the Loreto Sisters to make a lasting educational impact in Ostico through the delivery of equitable learning opportunities at the community centre. In keeping with Loreto’s core vision, a particular focus of these programs will be the identification and empowerment of local women with leadership potential.
Construction of the community centre, generously supported by the Noel and Carmel O’Brien Family Foundation, will provide Ostico with a permanent space to conduct quality learning programs. It will also provide the community with a place large enough to hold events and meetings.
Significantly, the community centre will be equipped to act as a base for volunteers to reside when contributing to the growing suite of community development and educational activities.
The main project activity is the construction of a community centre and permanent residence for the Loreto Sisters. Given the complexities of building in such a remote area, in a country with limited infrastructure, this project could take two years to complete.
The community centre will consist of two rooms for local community use, two classrooms, an office, five bedrooms for volunteer and visitor accommodation, while the residence will be able to house up to eight Loreto Sisters.
Mary Ward International Australia thanks the Noel and Carmel O’Brien Family Foundation for their generous support of this project.
Water Access, Ostico
Partner | Fundacao Loreto Timor-Leste
Location | Ostico, Timor-Leste
Over the past four years, the Loreto Sisters have been working with the Ostico community on a range of initiatives that promote their fundamental human rights. This new project focuses on providing the village with an accessible source of clean water, firmly aligning it with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 – to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
The project builds on previous initiatives, including the 2019 Agri-business project. Through this project, the townspeople identified the need for improved water access for the farming community and the town itself.
In late 2021, the local community assisted in locating an underground stream and constructing a bore. The village now turns its attention to setting up a series of tanks and pipes to distribute the water throughout the town.
Locating a reliable water source in Ostico was the first significant challenge to be addressed. While a plentiful water supply flows under the Ostico village, it can be difficult to tap because the town sits upon a limestone plateau. Now that the water source has been found and the bore constructed, the project faces new challenges relating to water distribution, accessibility, and system maintenance, all critical to the project’s long-term success.
Under the leadership of the Xefi Suko and the Ostico Water Oversight Group, the community met and agreed on several measures to ensure the project’s ongoing sustainability. One such measure is establishing a fund used to maintain the water tanks and distribution pipes. Each household with access to the water will contribute to the fund, thus promoting a sense of local ownership and engagement.
Furthermore, MWIA has provided additional funding to improve the long-term accessibility of water for the women of Ostico.
Through this initiative, approximately 500 families living in Ostico will have access to clean water near their homes.
Importantly, this project will have a major impact on women and girls who currently access water from a contaminated stream about two kilometres from home. Each day, these women and girls cart approximately two dozen plastic bottles to the stream, fill each bottle, and then carry them home along a dirt road. Once home, they then need to boil the water before it can be used. This process alone can take many hours per day.
- Build a water tower and install a pump to raise the water from the bore, which will be stored in a large (5,000 litre) tank.
- Place a series of smaller (2,000 litre) tanks among the houses to make the water accessible to families.
- Connect piping from the large to the smaller tanks to facilitate water flow.
The History of Loreto Gari-uai Pre-Primary School and Community Centre
Timor-Leste, located over 400 kilometres north of Australia, is one of the least developed countries in the world, with basic health, literacy and income levels similar to sub-Saharan Africa.
Over the past decade, the newly independent country has travelled down the path of reconciliation as part of the healing process trying to recover from its violent and traumatic history. Most Timorese live in rural areas and many households have insufficient food to feed themselves all year round. According to UNICEF two thirds of the population are under the age of 25, approximately 40% of children are malnourished and more than 58% of the population is illiterate. With so many young children in need of education the school system is simply under-resourced.
The Loreto Sisters along with MWIA are committed to addressing the lack of educational opportunities facing the Timorese people in the remote area of Gari-uai by building the first Loreto Pre-Primary School in Timor-Leste. The interim Pre-Primary school opened on 1 June 2015 in a refurbished community building, and today the school operates from a newly purpose-built building.
Seventy children attend the Pre-Primary school on a regular basis. In 2018, the Community Centre commenced adult classes and regular health clinics were held.
The path to realising this dream began in 2002 following an invitation from the Superior General to all Loreto Provinces asking them to have the courage to move to new places to “take some risks, however small, in moving out from safe and familiar situations” to places that would benefit their work.
Currently Loreto Sisters, Margie Bourke, Selvi Adaikalam, Margaret Mary Flynn and Nguyen Ai Thien are living in Timor-Leste.
From the outset this has been a community–based project, centred on educating the children of Gari-uai. Now the parents and the whole community are benefiting from adult education and employment. There is hope for a brighter future for generations to come.
In 2006 two Loreto Sisters, Elizabeth Donnan & Pat Hanvey began a new foundation in Zambia. From their home in Lukulu, on the banks of the Zambezi River, they work in grassroots development, primary health care, and education. Most recently, they established the Sancta Maria College of Nursing and Midwifery, promoting health education and economic development in this remote community.