Help needed for orphans' future harvest

22/10/2010

World Mission Month News Story
Help for the harvest...Timor-Leste orphans.
The biggest cost incurred by orphanages around the world is food.

If there is land nearby, attempts at self-sufficiency are made by planting vegetables, fruit and nut trees - provided the environment is conducive to growing and the cost of the land can be met.

If they are fortunate, an orphanage will also keep minimal livestock.

Supported by Catholic Mission, The Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary are running two orphanages in Timor-Leste, helping to prepare a future harvest for the orphaned young of the country.

One of the orphanages is in the Dili suburb of Bidau, while the other is seven hours' away by four-wheel drive, in the mountain town of Soibada.

At the Bidau Home there are 52 orphans, ranging in age from four years to 22 years, while at Soibada there are 74 children.

The children have come from varied backgrounds and circumstances. Some came from losing parents during the Indonesian occupation, others lost parents during the independence referendum in 1999, and sadly, newer residents have lost parents or carers during the most recent unrest in Timor-Leste only a few years ago, in 2006.

Making a world of difference to vulnerable people

World Mission Month News Story
Sr Marylou with Dominic, the youngest child at the orphanage.
Dominic is the youngest of the children under the Sisters’ care. He’s not quite five years old, but is certainly at home with his many older brothers and sisters. Everyone looks out for each other at the orphanage. Dominic is preparing for his first year at school.

All of the children are given every opportunity possible, as they are the future of the parish, the community and the country.

The orphanage provides for all the basic needs of the children including clothing, food, school materials and school fees and health costs when necessary.

Running costs for the home in Bidau alone, are nearly $30,000 per year. The biggest cost to the Sisters, not surprisingly, is food.

In order to alleviate this problem and to become more self-sufficient, the Dominican Sisters have begun the process of purchasing two-and-a-half hectares of land outside the Dili capital. They have raised half the funds themselves, and are looking to Catholic Mission to assist with the other half - a further $30,000.

By putting the deposit down on the land, they have been given permission to harvest bananas from the property. They have also fenced off about half of the land with chain-link or cyclone fencing. A water well has been successfully sunk and is now running, although there is still a need to install a pump and build a shed for farming tools.

Long-term, the Sisters aspire to establish a maternity support centre on the property at a for at-risk mothers in the area, and their children, providing them with education, life skills and catechism classes.

For this to become a reality, the Sisters will be looking to build simple cottage accommodation, a multi-purpose hall, kitchen and toilet facilities.

Once that infrastructure is set up, the centre could also be hired out to non-government organisations that are running training and capacity building courses.

Catholic Mission’s support of communities, like these in Timor-Leste, means that the people can feel confident, knowing that they have the opportunities previously unavailable to them. This support gives the people a sense of solidarity.

Catholic Mission has made Timor-Leste its major appeal for World Mission Month (October), which encompasses World Mission Day on Sunday 24 October.

"Donations make a world of difference to vulnerable people, fragile communities and in educating a new generation of Church leaders. This mission is nowhere more pressing than in Timor-Leste," Catholic Mission National Director Martin Teulan said.

You can make a Mission Month donation through parish appeal envelopes, online at catholicmission.org.au or by calling 1 800 257 296 for further information.


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