Thank you for allowing me to speak with you about my Jesuit immersion in Timor Leste.

My name is Raphael.

I live in Annandale and I am in Year 11 at Saint Ignatius College Riverview.

I was very fortunate to be one of four (4) Saint Ignatius boys chosen to undertake the two-week immersion during the July school holidays.

We were among 15 students from Jesuit schools around Australia: St Aloysius College in Sydney, Saint Ignatius College Adelaide, Saint Ignatius College Geelong, Xavier College in Melbourne and Loyola College in Melbourne

We flew from Darwin to Dili, where we spent a night before heading to Railaco for our first week.

I know that Railaco is St Canice’s sister parish in East Timor. We were very privileged to see how your generosity is supporting the welfare, healthcare, nutrition and educational needs of babies and children.

During our time in Railaco, we took part in the feeding program. After driving for 40 minutes into the mountains, we came to a house on a hill. Inside were 30 children aged 3-8 years old. The children come to the home three times a week for a substantial meal. We helped serve them bowls of rice, eggs and chicken, which they really enjoyed.

On another day, we visited the remote village of Tabulesi to assist the mobile medical clinic, which is staffed by a doctor who sees whoever arrives for help. We had a mass with all the villagers and then shared dances and lunch.

Much of our time was spent with the children at NOSSEF – the school in Railaco. The separate boys’ and girls’ dormitories for boarders at NOSSEF are life-changing. Without them, many students would have to travel upward of three hours each day to get to and from school.

It was a delight to teach the students in Railaco as they were all eager to learn and to loved hearing our stories about Australia. (I am sure our teachers at Riverview wished we were always so attentive in class).

Each class has about 25 students. They learn a variety of different subjects, including Maths, English, Portuguese and Tetum – which is the language of East Timor.

We danced. One of the songs we sang was ‘Home among the gumtrees’, with associated moves. The students absolutely loved hopping around like kangaroos.

Every day at 12:30, all the students would come out for lunch, and the school would provide them with a hot meal.

I talked to Father Shuoy – a Jesuit working at Railaco – and he said that the lunch meal is important as it unites the students. They all get to sit together, share nourishing food and feel equal, no matter where they come from or what their family circumstances are.

Straight after school, the boys would all spend 30 minutes doing their chores. We were staying directly opposite the boys dormitory. After their chores, the boys would play basketball and volleyball with us before sitting down for dinner.

Playing sport together and sharing Timorese childhood games was amazing. Sport is something everyone had a mutual love for and, during that time, the language barrier didn’t matter.

Another highlight of our first week was sharing mass and breakfast with the St Paul de Chartes nuns, who – like the Jesuits – are very humble and devoted to the children.

Our final night in Railaco was memorable. We returned from the Jesuit residence to find the basketball court had been transformed by the boys from the dormitory. There were fairy lights hanging in the trees and on the basketball hoops. There were tables set for dinner. The MC was a Year 10 student called Soziniho. He was tiny and nervous but very proud to be leading the occasion. We danced for each other and sang songs. It was a wonderful night.

After our week in Railaco we travelled to Kasait.

We stayed at Colegio Santo Inacio de Loiole. It is a much more affluent school than Railaco. We spent our days teaching the children maths and English and participating in sports and cultural activities with them.

Each day we said the Examen, just as we do at Saint Ignatius College Riverview. I was privileged to lead the Examen in front of the 800 kids at Colegio Santo Inacio de Loiole.

Other highlights of the immersion included climbing to the top of the Christ Rei in Dili and spending time at the Jesuit residence at Montserrat, Kasait.

I know how fortunate I am to have been chosen to undertake this immersion.

I saw how important faith and prayer are to the East Timorese people and what important work the Jesuits are doing there.

I will remember the children of Railaco. They have very little compared to us but they are happy and content.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you about my Jesuit Immersion in East Timor. I have seen first-hand how the generosity and kindness of the St Canice’s community is funding programs in Railaco which are truly life changing.

Thank you.


A Message from St Canice’s.

We invite you to become part of our Railaco family. You’ll fall in love with the people as much as we have.

Join us in giving a step-up in life to beautiful kids from families with virtually nothing. It’s really easy. Please donate. Thank you.

TWO OPTIONS for a recurring monthly gift to help the kids :

  1. Tuition fees for one aspiring student – $12.50 a month, $37.50 for three months, or $150 for a year. OR
  2. Specially trained teachers ‘make the difference’ at the Railaco Secondary School.

A recurring monthly donation of $20 covers the cost of this. Please click here.