Jesuit scholastic Br Apu (on the left) feeling very happy with the first fruits of the harvest.


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.


Available funds have allowed for a modest fit-out for 42 boys in the new St Michael’s dormitory. This is only half the envisaged capacity. Many more young men and women from the mountains have expressed their desire to go down to the village and chart a new path for their future by joining NOSSEF. If we are to respond and bring the chance for a good education and a better future to more young Timorese, the situation as of now needs our help and assistance.


Girls outside their own ‘dorm’ on the grounds of the SPC Sisters Convent adjacent to NOSSEF


Boys from the ‘dorm’ gathered in front of the old corrugated sheeting and bamboo dormitory. With an eagerness to improve personal academic standards and a chance for a better future, they built this temporary shelter themselves with help from their parents back in 2015. Now they are so delighted to have the new St Michael’s dormitory ready to move-in when they return from their villages after the Covid-19 lockdown is over.


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Farm story Railaco 17 Apr 2020


With the situation around the world with Covid-19, the students had to return to their villages – before they could share in the bounty.
However, some of the ‘dormers’ have voluntarily chosen to stay and look after things, and eat of the fruits of the harvest.