June 4, 2018

2018 Report – The Beginning of BETTER

Over the past 4 years great improvements have been made to the Letefoho High School following its opening in 2013. With generous support, the classrooms and school premises were able to undergo a renovation including the implementation of the water system and toilet blocks at the school. This has allowed for a student body growth of almost threefold, as shown in the diagram beside.

The most recent successes can be seen in 36 alumni entering university. After coming to Timor three years ago and testing the students the quality of education has improved dramatically with students comprehending classroom materials and achieving phenomenal results. When testing students three years ago, top student in class, Jerónimo de Deus expressed his dream to be an engineer. Today I am pleased to tell you Jerónimo is at the best university in Timor studying engineering. It is stories like this that you as donors have made possible for these children.

In embarking on my most recent trip, from 6th – 18th June 2018, I came with no real sense of purpose. I planned for a more exploratory, observatory trip after resigning from LETS (Letefoho East Timor Support) in late 2015.

I could go on for hours about my recent trip and all the information I have learnt and observations I have made. I’ll do my best to succinct my knowledge and outcomes gained from the trip.

In spending 5 days in the Emera/ Letefoho area I still felt purposeless. Seeing the people and all their faces again was a joy and meeting the new priests and volunteers, made me comfortable in the fact the school was being well looked after and the children well taught. This was evident in my visits to the school and teaching I did whilst I was there. To the end of the 5 days I could see the improvements we had helped the people make at Letefoho not just in education but also in the quality of life.

Upon leaving Letefoho, my second home, Eddie took me to the region of Maliana which I have wanted to travel to for some time. Blown away, stunned and in shock would have to be an understatement. I felt those feelings I first felt when travelling to Timor. In that moment, I realised my purpose and why I happened to be in Timor once again. Hearing from the people about there struggles with education, water, roads, sanitation, it’s a truly unexplainable experience. I was taken to the kindergarten run by the Salesian sisters. The work they were doing with the children was phenomenal, teaching lay people to run the kindergarten and teach the kids to read at the age of 4, write and do basic addition. The work they were doing across the whole community is something else.

I then went to the primary school and middle school to investigate the level of education. I conducted a Stage 2 (Australian year 3 and 4) Mathematics test on student in year 8 aged between 13-17 with an average age of 15. The results ranged from 1-11/29 with an average of 5.36. The full results are as below. The sister then showed me where these students were living. Students from year 4-9 ageing from just 10 years old where staying in the houses as pictured below with no family and looking after themselves. As there is no school in the mountains the parents have helped the children have accommodation near the school to help them and do what they can to give their children some sort of education. As there is no high school in the area students often finish their education after middle school. However, some are unable to make it that far with 5 known incidences of pregnancy in the past year with many unknown. The conditions these children are living in to receive an education is astounding. And the education they are living in these situations for is appalling if I’m being polite. The reality these students face is unexplainable. You will need to see it for yourself to believe it.

Therefore I invite you to join me on a new journey in a new community with a great need of your support!