March 22, 2024

Returning to East Timor was everything I hoped it would be and more… from BETTER’s General Manager Amanda

After my last trip in April 2023 for the opening of the Bakhita School of Excellence in Same (Sah-may), I didn’t think it could get any better. At that time, it was so rewarding to see BETTER’s vision come to life and Ornella’s dream, a reality. The classrooms had been refurbished, classroom furniture had been purchased and the school was officially open and able to welcome the first 48 students through the door.

On the day of the opening, it was heartwarming to see the pride and joy on the faces of all in attendance; the children, the parents, the teachers and the newly employed team who would support the school operations (cleaning, cooking of nutritious meals and security).

The first week was challenging and tiring but also successful, and almost 9 months later, the children who started school in 2023, having completed their Foundation year of schooling, returned to the school excited and ready to do it all again as the big kids on the block, in Year 1!

One of the highlights of this trip was seeing how far these children had progressed, not only in height and maturity, but in their grasp of the English language. Back in 2023, these children could speak little to no English and less than a year later, they were all able to greet us in person, tell us their names and share with us their favourite colour and subjects at school.

Another highlight of the trip was seeing the teachers and the school support team I had met last year, and meeting the newest members of the team. I was surprised at their cohesiveness as a group and their ability to have some fun together, with so much laughter! It is apparent that this has a flow-on effect with the children as the school is always filled with happiness, laughter and joy.

In such a short period of time, it was also rewarding to see the community support for the school and the work of BETTER. Strong partnerships have been built with the local doctor and other members of the Same community, who speak positively about the school and are proud to be a part of the school community with many of them wanting their children to attend the Bakhita School of Excellence.

Same is a beautiful part of the world, surrounded by mountains. If you want to visit East Timor to share in the daily life of our students, please reach out to us. Just has mine have been, your visit Timor will be an experience like no other.