Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in the world. Only 58% of the population over 15 years old can read and write, and 37% live on less than US$1.25 a day, which is below the international poverty line. Over 70% of the population lives in rural areas, which denies the majority of Timorese access to education, employment and sanitation facilities.
Abafala Catholic Primary School 2nd Phase Opening
The second phase of redevelopment at the Abafala Catholic Primary and Junior High School opened on Monday 15 July 2019 and was renamed Padre Joao de Deus (John of God) primary and junior high school. The college will enhance educational conditions for students in this very-poor remote mountain community where they face obstacles such as illiteracy, poverty and insufficient school infrastructure.
Phase one of the school opened in January 2016 and the second phase involved the construction of the second building with classrooms, library and additional toilets to cater for 253 students from grades five to eight.
It is hoped that with the assistance from the Timor-Leste Government the school will also be furnished with new desks and chairs for the students.
Partnering together for change
This project would not have been possible had it not been for the generous support of Kindermissionswerk and Aid to the Church in Need. Funds were raised by schools from the Marist Schools Australia network, Notre Dame College in Shepparton, Catholic College in Sale and Galen Catholic College in Wangaratta.
A Notre Dame College immersion group were fortunate to attend the opening and see first-hand how coming together to work towards a common goal can result in positive changes for a community. Ben Sordello, year 10 immersion team, said, “For myself, the involvement in Abafala means involving myself in a life changing experience for my benefit as well as many people here in Timor.”
Wild Timor Coffee which was founded by four Australian soldiers who were part of a peace keeping force to help with the stabilisation of Timor-Leste, have been ongoing supporters of this project donating proceeds from their sales.
Transforming education in Timor-Leste
The completion of the 2nd phase is a result of a long-standing partnership between the Diocese of Baucau’s Catholic Education Office, REIN Construction and Australian Marist Solidarity (AMS). Director Martin Rerebain shares the vision of the Diocese of Baucau and AMS for education in Timor-Leste. He works by building with the community rather than for a community and works in partnership with project coordinator Sister Herminia Maria Matos Sarmeno OSU, who represents the Diocese of Baucau’s Catholic Education Office in school redevelopment projects. Sister Herminia has overseen many of the AMS’s school redevelopment works in the Diocese that are aligned to the future educational priorities of the country.
Through this partnership and with the support of Australian and international supporters, AMS is working to transform education and build brighter futures for the youth in Timor-Leste. The next phase of this transformation is St Teresinha Central School in Quelicai.
Along with Padre Joao de Deus Primary and Junior High School, St Teresinha Central School must accommodate a large primary school cohort and the graduates of 12 Catholic primary schools. The school’s ageing infrastructure coupled with demand means that it still struggles to accommodate these students.
To partner, build and transform St Teresinha Central School visit click here