Despite the tremendous efforts to develop the country since it gained its independence in 1999, East Timor remains one of the poorest countries in Asia. 41% of the population live below the poverty line of US$0.88 cents per capita per day. Children are among the most vulnerable members in Timorese society: 58% suffer chronic malnutrition; 38% suffer from anemia, malaria, diarrhoea and other diseases and 20% have no access to primary education. Orphaned children are among the most destitute – often left without a home or relatives who can care for them.
Thankfully, there are orphanages in Timor-Leste, like St Therese’s at Maubara, which are there to provide loving care for these little ones. Saint Therese’s was first located in Likisa. The building was totally destroyed in the violence following the independence vote, 1999. The children were then housed in overcrowded conditions in a small dwelling in the neighbouring area of Maubara.
New premises were built in 2002 thanks to funding provided by GOAL, Irish Overseas Development Fund. St Therese’s now provides a loving home for 46 children, ranging in age from 6 to 16. They come from 12 of the 13 Timorese districts and arrive through the concern of priests and sisters.
Education is a priority for the children and the Sisters ensure that they have every opportunity to attend school. Children of pre-school age attend the kindergarten attached to the orphanage. Older children travel to primary or junior secondary schools in the area while senior students attend high schools in Dili.
Funds are needed to help the Sisters provide what is necessary for the children’s livelihood i.e. nutrition, clothing, shelter, education, healthcare and transport. The Sisters assure us that they rely on ATLAS’s financial support to provide the basic essentials for the children. The average cost of caring for a child is US$50 per month. The Sisters and the children thank you for your generous support.