Women and girls in developing countries are often denied opportunities for education. Yet, it is one of the most critical areas of development and the single most effective way to improve the lives of individuals and families as well as to contribute to social and economic development.
Timor-Leste is one of the world’s youngest nations with one of the youngest populations; about 54% are under the age of 15. It is also one of the poorest countries with 49% living below the poverty line of $1.90 per day. This means there is a lot of pressure on schools, school children and education systems.
There are, at present, ten girls or young women from Maubara orphanage seeking our support to continue their secondary education. Early in life they found themselves without parents or families to look after them. They have all been residents at the orphanage for many years. They come from a traditional culture where men are the dominant members of society, where women work hard to care for their children, maintain the household, collect water and produce and prepare food for the family. Many women in rural areas have never attended school and, for those who have, it may have been for only a year or two. The Carmelite Sisters have given these girls every opportunity to attend school at each stage of their development i.e. pre-school, primary and pre-secondary. They are now asking for our help to undertake senior secondary studies.
ATLAS will support them. Planning is now underway and we are presently discussing with the Carmelite Sisters the details of the program. This includes the finances needed to cover costs. When this is completed, we will be pleased to give further information to those interested in supporting this worthwhile program.
Josephine Mitchell RSJ
 IWDA International Women’s Development Agency https://www.iwda.org.au
 Timor population clock 2015 http://www.livepopulation.com/country/east-timor.html
 World Bank 2015 http://www.worldbank.org