Some years ago, the Jesuits were offered ten hectares of land about seven kilometres from NOSSEF, the secondary school that St Canice’s supports in Railaco, East Timor. In October of 2019, taking the initiative and drawing on his family background in agriculture, young Jesuit scholastic, Br Apu, organised the ‘dormers’ (as they are affectionately known) to begin work on a farm. This would provide food not only for the ‘dormers’, but for the Railaco Jesuit community, and other students in the NOSSEF canteen.
Even though the work was very hard and difficult, both boys and girls were excited and happy working alongside each other to clear a couple of hectares of the gifted wooded land to start planting their crops. The land was cleared. Trees were felled and dragged to the boundaries of the garden. Posts for the fence around the new garden were cut on the spot. The girl ‘dormers’ played their part clearing grass and branches in preparation for planting the garden. Thanks to Fr Bong and Fr Phuong’s contacts with the local authorities, Br Apu was able to borrow three tractors with drivers to carry out the all-important tilling of the soil.
“We are all coming from the backgrounds of agricultural families and we have shared among us regarding how to do farming. Through this, finally, we are very grateful with the results. The first corn, cassava, pumpkins and peanuts were harvested this month”, says Br Apu smiling broadly.