To our Friends and Benefactors, This past year 2021 was also marked with the pandemic. Timor-Leste also faced the destructive power of natural disasters such as heavy rains and flash floods. Since October there have been fewer or sometimes no cases of COVID-19 in the Timor-Leste daily report, but attention still needs to be paid. Our academic year 2021 ended peacefully in Railaco, and we’d like to express our gratitude to all our collaborators and supporters who have helped our teachers and students in this difficult time in various ways through scholarships, teacher salary grants, generous donations of supplies, and prayer messages. Since mid-September, NOSSEF Secondary School has resumed its regular campus activities. The students express their joy of studying together.
Julieta, 18, is a Grade 10 student at NOSSEF Secondary School Her story combines the commendable traits of kindness, deep faith and action. It’s an example of how a good Catholic education can lift poor children living in desperate rural circumstances and provide them with opportunity in life.
Education is a particular Ignatian ingredient. Our Ignatian heart urges us to always reflect and remain mindful of the reasons and basis for our St Canice’s sister parish involvement with Railaco Jesuit Mission. Education affords people of a rural upbringing an ability to shape the direction of their own lives, their families and the communities in which they live, and even their nation.
Thankfully, the recent floods and spread of Covid in East Timor have not impacted the people of Railaco in a big way. In heavily populated areas such as the capital Dili and some other areas, Jesuit Social Services Timor-Leste has been very actively involved in distributing food, clothing and blankets to those affected. Fr Bong reports from Railaco that plans for 2021 for the Mobile Medical Clinic and Children’s Feeding Program just continue as before.
Some years ago, the Jesuits were offered ten hectares of land about seven kilometres from the school. In October of 2019, taking the initiative and drawing on his family background in agriculture, Br Apu was able to organise 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.
The students of NOSSEF, the Jesuits' Railaco secondary school of nearly 400, see the blessings that their education brings them and therefore they focus on their studies. Last year, all students passed the national exams and the school came 2nd in the country only to be pipped by the Jesuit-run school outside of Dili. Amazing achievement because these are children from poor villages who have experienced the brunt of their recent brutal history.