On 29 August 2003, the St Bakhita Centre, Eraulo, was opened, having taken two years to build. It was built by the people of Eraulo as a youth development and training centre - in the belief that future growth, development and independence was to be realised only through
the education and advancement of the youth of Timor Leste.
The St Bakhita Community Centre is staffed entirely by East Timorese, who are supported by visiting volunteers occasionally, during the year. The St Bakhita Centre has had a significant
impact on the youth of the community through its skills development programmes that have enhanced their opportunities for work or further study, both in the local and wider community.
Many of the activities are intended to strengthen community ties, bringing together religious, sporting and other community groups. This is a significant factor in developing stability in the community, as it provides opportunities for sometimes disparate groups, to work successfully together.
Current activities held at the centre include English classes, computer classes, music development, martial arts training and a recently established, mechanical workshop – for both skills training and income earning purposes.nThe St Bakhita Centre also includes a health clinic that was completed in 2006.
Through the St Bakhita Centre Eddie de Pina coordinates the distribution of all donations, the construction of public toilet blocks, water purification programmes – connecting drinking water to village homes and redevelopment programmes for the whole of the Letefoho
In 1975, when Indonesia invaded Timor Leste (after Portugal withdrew to allow Timor Leste to become independent), Eddie de Pina was 10 years old. His family fled their island hometo Australia, arriving in Darwin. They later settled in Perth where Eddie lived for 25 years. He never stopped questioning his circumstances and the brutality that endured in his home country. His brother was murdered, and so many other friends and family members were victims of atrocities.
In 2000, after the declaration of independence, Eddie returned to Timor Leste knowing he wanted to assist his people and make a difference. His return was supported by the community of Leeuwin where he had lived in Perth.
Eddie was given land by Fr Domingos from Dili, and as a result of a dream he set about organising the building of a youth development and training centre. He finally realised Dili was not the place for this centre, so went back to Fr Domingos and spoke with him. "No problem", was Father’s reply. He then found land for Eddie in Eraulo. This land had been given to the Catholic Church by a family from Ramen, who are still there today.
LETS had the great pleasure of welcoming two very special guests from Letefoho to Sydney - Fr Helio Fernandes and Eddie de Pina. Fr Helio is the Parish Priest of Letefoho. Eddie de Pina established the St Bakhita Centre in Eraulo, within the Letefoho Parish (you can read more of his story below). During their
10-day stay from 23 August 2014, they attended: