Last month, the remote mountain community of Abafala in Timor-Leste celebrated the opening of a new Catholic primary school.
More than 300 people attended the ceremony. They included members of the local community, students, staff, builders, Parish Priest Father José San Juan and Vicar General of the Diocese of Baucau, Father Francisco da Silva.
Representatives from the Catholic Education office in Baucau, the government’s Ministry of Education, and Marist Solidarity also attended the event, which took place on January 23.
In true Timorese style, there were speeches and traditional dances by the school’s students and ceremonial ribbons were cut by representatives from each generation within the community. The building was then officially blessed by Father José.
In his speech, school principal Mistre Jaime—on behalf of the entire community—expressed appreciation for the support provided by Marist Solidarity, Catholic College Sale, Galen Catholic College, Wangaratta, Notre Dame College, Shepparton, and German agencies Kindermissionswerk and Aid to the Church in Need.
He said that the standard of the new building was very high and that he looked forward to providing education of an equally high standard.
Ministry of Education spokesperson, Mistre Cidalio Liete, reiterated the principal’s comments and announced that they would provide new desks and chairs to the school.
Marist Solidarity in-country project manager Brother Tony Clark worked very closely with the community to rebuild the school and said he was moved to see that the whole community was obviously proud of their school’s high quality.
He said, “It was now in their hands.”
Marist Solidarity Timor-Leste projects’ coordinator, Mr Michael Coleman spoke at the opening. He said that he felt privileged to share this milestone with the local community, the young people of Abafala and, more broadly, Timor-Leste.
Michael also thanked the Diocese’s Catholic Education Director, Madre Herminia Sarmento for her role in developing the school and builder Mr Martinus Rerebain for his high-quality work.
Michael said he was encouraged to see that the work our donors support is “making a difference to the lives of young people in developing communities and to the future of education in Timor-Leste.”
Later, Michael said, “It was a joyous opening ceremony that involved the whole community and it reflected the community effort that has surrounded this project from start to finish.”
The completed building includes three classrooms and toilet facilities. It offers 135 young people access to primary education.
Please go to our website to find out more about our work in Timor-Leste or to donate to the second stage of this much-needed project.