EAST TIMOR: Salesian-run Opera Don Bosco Onlus Foundation launches appeal to help create an infirmary at the Laga Laura Vicuña Orphanage
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run Opera Don Bosco Onlus Foundation in Milan, Italy, has launched a new global appeal to help create an infirmary to take care of the girls living in the Laga Laura Vicuña Orphanage in East Timor, which is run by the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and named after Blessed Laura Vicuña. Launched in 1996, the orphanage houses 104 girls aged 6-17. The plan is to create an independent area where health services are available, and the girls can be treated with privacy and respect.
In addition, providing a separate space enables girls to be isolated when they are sick and decrease the spread of contagious viruses. Improving the health of the girls also will help them attend school more frequently. Most of the girls are orphans or come from families who abandoned or abused them, and they left home seeking safety elsewhere. If not for the orphanage, many would not be in school.
Through education, including 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.
“Salesian programs are so successful in part because they remain flexible and diversified to meet of the needs of their students,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “The health and safety of students is critical to ensuring they are able to gain an education and live a productive life. It’s especially important now as the world faces a global pandemic.”
Since the liberation of Indonesia in 1999, East Timor has had political freedom, but the living conditions of the people in the country, especially in rural areas, has remained critical. Many women are at risk of dying during childbirth, often because of a lack of a medical care and at times, women refuse health care, preferring the help of relatives and acquaintances. This has only served to increase the number of orphans in the country.
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.
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Salesian Missions – East Timor
World Bank – East Timor/Timor-Leste