ChildrenChildren who do not have their biological parents to care for them can find themselves in situations of serious threat, particularly in the developing world. These children are the most likely to be neglected, discriminated against, exploited and suffering from malnutrition. These orphans are also likely not to be enrolled in school. They are among the world’s poorest, lacking that basic human right – the presence of parents.

Timor-Leste has changed dramatically. Since Timor-Leste’s independence a decade and a half ago, the situation of Timorese children has gradually improved. However, there are challenges still affecting children in Timor-Leste which would be unheard of in a country like Australia.

Children whose parents are dead or who cannot look after their children is an issue of concern. Almost a quarter of households have a situation where a child needed support for a variety of parental problems. Extended families have traditionally taken such children in, but abuse and exploitation can take place. Placing children in institutions is the exception rather than the rule in Timor-Leste, although there are scores of orphanages which provide care, indicating the size of the problem.

The Timorese Government is keen to strengthen policies and procedures which will assist children. It is legislating to put children at the core of policy development so that the children have all the opportunities they need for development. However, in a nation which has suffered so much devastation in recent decades, there is a long way to go.

Your support of St Therese’s Orphanage at Maubara gives some children a chance. Thank you.