EAST TIMOR: Don Bosco Orphanage Helps Youth Prepare for Academic Achievement
(MissionNewswire) East Timor has endured a decades-long civil war and is home to 1.1 million people. According to the United Nations Development Program’s Human Development Index, in 2014, East Timor ranked 128 out of 187 countries for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living. The World Bank estimates that East Timor has just over 49 percent of its population living in poverty with over one-third of the population regularly experiencing food shortages.
Salesian missionaries in the country have been providing programs to help residents recover and rebuild in the wake of a devastating civil war that claimed countless lives, decimated entire communities and resulted in living conditions that are among the worst in the world. Since the violence has subsided, efforts are being focused on helping the needy, restoring hope and providing new opportunities for the future.
“Salesian missionaries offer a wide range of programs that work to improve the lives of the people of East Timor. These include programs that provide access to nutrition, education and healthcare, all services that are essential to creating a sustainable society and optimistic future,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Poor youth and their families receive support at community health centers, orphanages, parishes and youth centers. In addition, classes are conducted in primary, secondary, technical and agricultural schools – many of which provide room and board to their students.”
The Don Bosco Orphanage in the city of Lospalos accommodates 109 boys in grades three to nine. The orphanage provides for the boys’ basic needs such as housing, nutrition, clothing and education. Schooling at the orphanage aims to impart life skills such as responsibility, self-discipline and organization as well as offering traditional early education to prepare students to go on to mainstream high schools. In 2014, more than 20 boys left the orphanage to continue their education in high schools around East Timor.
“Successfully completing their early and high school education is the prerequisite for more advanced professional and technical training. Training that will help youth find and retain employment allowing them to break the cycle of poverty and lead productive lives,” explains Fr. Hyde.
The Don Bosco Orphanage owes much of its success to donors who have helped to provide everything from beds and furnishings to school uniforms, clothing and school supplies.
For Arlindo Silva, aged 14, the Don Bosco Orphanage made continuing his education possible. Due to family circumstances, he had to move to his grandmother’s village which was a substantial distance away from his school in Lospalos. Without any means of travel to get to his school, it was unlikely that Arlindo would be able to advance to the seventh grade. His grandmother reached out to the Don Bosco Orphanage where Arlindo was accepted and is now living and continuing his studies. Arlindo has adapted easily and made friends and thrives on the orphanage’s routine with structured time for play, chores and school work. In addition, Arlindo enjoys three meals a day and a stable place to live and learn.
“Youth need a secure and stable environment where all of their needs are met so they can more easily focus on their education. The Don Bosco Orphanage meets its students’ needs while providing them with a sense of family and community,” adds Fr. Hyde.
Salesian Missions – East Timor