In just under 12 months from the start of land clearing, a beautiful new boarding house was officially opened in September 2018, by Bishop Virgilio, from Dili and Fr Brian Moloney, from Lower North Shore Parish (LNSP). I had the pleasure of attending this celebrated event with Marlene Black, a member of LNSP, who sponsors Juvito, one of senior high school students and Jenny Thompson and Stephen Noone, from the Catholic Commission of Employment Relations.
This is the first of 2 boarding houses: 1 for girls and 1 for boys, who attend Year 12 of Our Lady of Mt Carmel Senior High School in Letefoho. LETS would like to thank the Rotary groups from Broome and Ascot, Western Australia, for their invaluable contributions to this project. As you can see from the photos, this project was wholeheartedly supported by the families of the students, who worked tirelessly to clear the land and prepared the foundations. Behind this very successful project that is planned for ongoing community impact was the amazing energy and foresight of the very humble Fr Helio Fernandes, Parish Priest of Letefoho. He has achieved so many great things for his community!
This boarding house will eventually be for the boys, but as chivalry is alive and well in Timor Leste, it will be used by the girls until the completion of the 2nd boarding house, which will be closer to the high school
This may sound like a luxury for a remote village in a developing country, but it is the only way many students will have a real chance to prepare well for their final exams. Many children walk for up to 3 hours to and from school each day. Children have before school and after school chores to attend to, like collecting firewood for the stove or collecting water from the clean water resources, reducing study time and increasing fatigue. Most homes in Letefoho have only 1 light globe, if they are fortunate to have electricity connected at all. Many parents are unable to assist with study work, as they, themselves, missed out on education. The boarding house provides a warm comfortable environment, with full meals, good lighting and study support from residential nuns, for the girls. There are now 48 students living in the boarding house with many more hoping to in the future. Originally, thought to be able to take 60 students, 48 are proving to be sufficient for the space provided. Perhaps we will extend the building in the distant future as residence there has proven to be so popular with the students and their families.
Fundraising for the 2nd boarding house will commence mid 2019.