‘Upholding Fullness of Life on Earth’ in Railaco sounds grand at first. But it’s anything but. This is one pillar in the Apostolic priorities of our sister parish in Railaco. Elaborating on tis, the parish priest, Fr EJ Gerilla SJ, tells us that ‘Some poverty in parts of the parish is beyond imagination’.

Feeding children and providing a mobile medical clinic is part of the parish response to this. Education at the parish secondary school NOSSEF raises the bar to get rural kids a real chance in life, both academically and formed to be ‘men and women for others’.

Fr EJ says, “it’s very much part of the gospel to address the social justice needs of the people. “You can’t preach to people who have nothing in their stomachs, who are hungry”.

Fr EJ second from left with other members of the Railaco Jesuit community

In Timor-Leste, food is insecure. The parish has embarked on a ‘Food Security’ Program to create a culture and to focus on nutrition. They work with Jesuit Social Services. The aim is not just to feed kids but to empower the head of the family. Maximising farm production, use of land, understanding weather patterns and crop rotation to maximise planting,

The aim to move the people away from noodles and other unhealthy food choices and maximise range of foods with better protein, and vitamins that are deficient in their diet.

The Jesuits were offered ten hectares of land about seven kilometres from NOSSEF. In taking the initiative and drawing on his family background in agriculture, young Jesuit scholastic, Br Apu, organised the ‘dormers’ (as the boarders are affectionately known) to begin work on a farm. This provides food not only for the ‘dormers’, but for the Railaco Jesuit community, and other students in the NOSSEF canteen.