EAST TIMOR: Salesian missionaries provide orphanages and medical care for poor and homeless youth
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries and Salesian sisters living and working in East Timor have three orphanages for poor and homeless youth in the country, as well as a medical clinic. In the wake of the devastating civil war that claimed countless lives, decimated entire communities and resulted in living conditions that are among the worst in the world, the Salesian community has been providing programs to help residents recover and rebuild. Now that the violence has subsided, efforts are being focused on helping the poor, restoring hope and providing new opportunities for the future.
The Venilale Salesian Sisters’ Orphanage accommodates 116 girls, aged 6 to 16 years. The girls are given an education and are encouraged to participate in recreational activities. Through the generosity of donors, two new rainwater tanks have been purchased and installed, saving the girls a daily 2 km walk with buckets to collect water. The water is used for drinking, washing clothes and showering.
At another orphanage focused on ensuring girls have a safe place to live and an education, the Laga Laura Vicuna Orphanage is home to 98 girls, aged 6 to 16 years. Through education incorporating studies such as theater, dance, music, sewing and sports, girls are encouraged to develop their skills and talents. Nutritional meals are provided five times a day thanks to support from donors. Laga has an extensive parish and consists of more than 40 villages, 24 schools and 38 pastoral centers, of which many are difficult to physically access. Parents connect with Salesian programs so their children receive an education that will help them late find and retain stable employment and contribute positively to their communities.
Salesian missionaries also have a specific orphanage for boys. The Lospalos Don Bosco Orphanage accommodates more than 100 boys, aged 6 to 16 years, who are attending local schools. Salesian missionaries help the boys develop survival skills, including after school work in the vegetable garden. It helps boys put some of the skills they learn in the classroom into a real-world environment and teaches them how to provide for themselves.
In addition to these orphanages and technical and vocational training centers, Salesians in East Timor also provide the Maria Auxiliadora Medical Clinic, which offers essential medical care for the poor in Venilale and 13 surrounding villages. There were more than 9,300 patients treated for common ailments such as malaria, tuberculosis, asthma and pneumonia.
The clinic’s priority is to care for mothers and children. Because a high percentage of the population lives in conditions of poverty and experiences food shortages, access to the Salesian clinic is an important alternative to a costly hospital visit. Health education programs in local schools and villages are also conducted.
“Salesian programs are so successful in part because they remain flexible and diversified to meet of the needs of their students,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Being an integral part of the communities in which they work, Salesian missionaries are aware of local needs first-hand and are then able to develop programs to directly address those needs.”
East Timor is home to 1.1 million people and according to the Human Development Index, the country ranked 132 out of 189 for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living in 2018. The World Bank estimates that East Timor has close to 49 percent of its population living in poverty with over one-third of the population regularly experiencing food shortages. In addition, close to 50 percent of the population is illiterate.
Australian Salesian Mission Overseas Aid Fund Annual Report 2018
Photo courtesy of Australian Salesian Mission Overseas Aid Fund Annual Report 2018
Salesian Missions – East Timor
World Bank – East Timor/Timor-Leste