Educating Young People

According to recent research, only 58% of the citizens of East Timor are literate and the illiteracy rate is much higher among women. This situation is the result of negligence in the field of education, for example, the insufficient number of schools.

The Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians (FMA) work hard for the development of the country, particularly in education and in improving the quality of life. The FMA have two schools in Venilale and Fuiloro.

In Venilale there is a technical school with boarding facilities for girls studying catering and hotel management. Many of the students apply to reside in the boarding school, not just those that come from distant villages and have nowhere to stay. Sometimes, in fact, living with their relatives means working like a slave and having no time to study, or being exposed to the risk of violence and abuse.

In 2016 the sisters moved their training centre from Dili, the capital of East Timor, to a place where graduates from Salesian schools can improve their professional skills. Currently the centre has offered contracts to 27 students who have done courses in catering and hotel management or tailoring in the schools at Vanilale and Fuiloro. They receive a monthly salary for their work and after six months they get a diploma that will help them find a steady job.

"East Timor is a young country, with a very youthful population” - says Sr Joanna Goik, a Polish missionary who has been working in East Timor for 27 years. More than half the population is under 19 years of age. This situation brings many challenges, but also many opportunities. These young people, if properly trained, can be a force that will lead to the economic development of the country."

Apart from their educational activities, the Sisters are also supporting the local community in Venilale. Thanks to the missionary projects coordinated by the Salesian Mission Office in Warsaw, for example, they are able to feed the children who attend the oratory. As part of a project developed in 2014, they have bought shoes, uniforms and school supplies for 160 students.

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