EAST TIMOR: Two Australian volunteers are working in Los Palos and Dili as part of the Cagliero Project
(MissionNewswire) Two Australian volunteers, Keith Collins from Perth and Alasdair O’Brien from Melbourne, have arrived in East Timor as part of the Cagliero Project, the Salesian missionary voluntary program of the Australian Province. The two are the first volunteers from the project to be in East Timor thanks to an invitation less than a year ago from Father Apolinario Neto, Superior of the Vice Province of Timor-Leste. Collins is working in Los Palos and O’Brien in Dili.
The Cagliero Project fosters cooperation and support among the different provinces with volunteers having also worked in Thailand, Cambodia, Samoa and Zambia. The project gives volunteers an opportunity to contribute to the local Don Bosco missions and serve the poorest and most disadvantaged children in their programs.
“It’s an honor to be one of the first volunteers of the Cagliero Project in East Timor,” said Collins. “I have certainly received a fantastic welcome, and I’m determined to help as much as possible and at the same time learn from the local community. The pre-novices of Los Palos are very interested in improving their skills in English and are really curious about Australia. Here there is a real cultural crossover.”
Collins added, “There is a unique link in history between Australia and East Timor and the Cagliero Project is now further strengthening this link.”
Salesian missionaries and Salesian Sisters living and working in East Timor operate educational programs, three orphanages for poor and homeless youth and 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 welcome at the Don Bosco Centec Vocational Training Center in Dili-Comoro has been unique,” said O’Brien. “Here I help three young Salesians with English lessons. In particular, we make prayers and readings in English to improve the language, so they will be prepared if they want to study abroad.”
Collins and O’Brien want to emphasize how much they were amazed by the great faith of the people of East Timor. “It’s striking to see how much faith there is in the Timorese, despite the difficult conditions of life. This is undoubtedly the fruit of constant missionary activity in this land,” they said.
East Timor is home to 1.26 million people and according to the Human Development Index, the country ranked 133 out of 188 for life expectancy, access to education and standard of living in 2016. The World Bank estimates that East Timor has close to 42 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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World Bank – East Timor/Timor-Leste