ATLAS support paid the wages of four teachers so they could have a supervised teaching experience to develop and improve their skills as local teachers. Many of the students are from poor rural families and do not have the money to pay the full school fees. ATLAS support also allows the school through these teachers to expand and provide much needed educational opportunities for this poor community.
After an extremely successful year containing COVID-19 with border quarantine in 2020, March 2021 saw Timor-Leste’s first cases of community transmission and Dili’s first lockdown. School activities were suspended though to July 2021. As well, in late March flooding in the capital Dili and the school’s district of Hera caused by heavy rain from cyclone Seroja had significant impacts on people’s lives. ATLAS support was critical for the school to be able to continue to provide wages to teachers during the crises, as the school was unable to expect the monthly school fees. Escola Dominicana provided external study material to the students. Those who had access to mobile internet received the materials through WhatsApp, while others were sent photocopies of activities. The teachers were challenged by this work and the additional workload was taxing but showed commitment to their jobs as teachers.
The number of the students is significantly increasing, this is a promising school which has begun to teach high school students as of 2022. The community in Hera continue to give their trust and confidence to the Missionary Dominican Sisters in that they offer good quality education to their children. The school continues to attract students and parents because their vision and mission is clear, “To nurture good values and building character for the future of this new generation of Timorese”.
On 30 June 2021 this project was completed with the school now being able to sustain the wages of all staff. The following acknowledgement was received from Sister Elsie A. Bagaypo, O.P and Sr. Angeles Camoes, O.P, School Administrator:
“We would like to acknowledge with gratitude for the mission – partnership we established with the ATLAS Foundation and Escola Dominicana-Hera from 2017-2021 which was built on trust and common vision. Through the leadership of the Chairman of the Board, Mr. Gerald Keneally, the school is gradually achieving its goal for sustainability. Through the ATLAS FOUNDATION, the school received support for Monthly salary for the four teachers, construction of school canteen, bread mixer for bread production, transportation (Angguna). all were very beneficial (tools) in paving the way towards sustainability. Thanks to the ATLAS FOUNDATION for their trust in us.”