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Florencio is a loving father to three children in Lautem, Timor-Leste. Every morning he walks his children to school, drops them off, waves goodbye, and then goes to work on the village farm. He is back at the school every afternoon in time to pick his children up.

His eldest son is in the second grade and his second son is just starting at a preschool supported by ChildFund Timor-Leste. Florencio has a reputation amongst the community for being very passionate about his two sons receiving a quality education in Timor-Leste.

Florencio pictured with his youngest son.

Every morning he can be seen smiling walks his sons to school. Florencio was only able to complete a middle school education until he was pulled out to focus on generating an income to help support his family. But now he wants a better future for his children.

“He is one of the best fathers. I don’t know how he manages it with his work on the farm, but he comes to school every day to wait for his children to finish. Only after that will he go tend to work or other chores,” said a volunteer teacher at the school. 

Last year, he was recognised by the school for his dedication to his children’s education in Timor-Leste. This is the first time this award has been given out. In a community where traditional gender roles are entrenched in daily life, it is unique for fathers to be so heavily involved in their children’s education.

The boys’ mother stays home with their third child, who is four years old. “For me, the most important thing is my children, I share work with my wife, my wife takes care of our third child, and I take the kids to school every day. Every important thing that I must do I always do it after my children come back from school,” said Florencio.

ChildFund has supported the local preschool by providing basic learning supplies and running information sessions with the community to demonstrate the importance of early childhood education in Timor-Leste and encouraging parents to send their children to preschool.

Florencio’s oldest son, Arjun, is one of the top students in his grade. Florencio makes time to sit and study with his children twice a day – usually around dinner time. He will read magazines with them to help them with literacy and they’ll play games together supplied by ChildFund at the preschool.

Florencio thinks that the support from organisations like ChildFund is vital to making sure more children attend and stay in school. He says that through ChildFund, he learned more about why childhood education is important for his children, particularly early childhood education.

He says that children who have graduated from the ChildFund supported preschool are always some of the best students. “Preschool prepares children and helps them be more confident learners. They have a head start in reading and the alphabet which is very important for all children because their minds are so open at that age.”

“My dream to all my children is for them to have success in every way they choose. I had a dream for one of them to become a teacher and military because I want my kid to be part of the Government and to keep teaching what they know to others,” said Florencio.

Learn more about how ChildFund Timor-Leste is working with local partners and communities to improve access to early childhood education.

You can also support early childhood education and make a difference to the lives of children in need. Consider donating one of our educational Gifts for Good, such as a school supplies set or a scholarship for a child. You can also sign up to donate monthly to ChildFund Australia, enabling us to support many more children to go to school and to stay there.

All children have the right to an education. For many children living with a hearing impairment this means extra support in the classroom and a teacher that can communicate using sign language.

More than 50 kilometres from the communities where ChildFund Cambodia works, one school has dedicated themselves to providing education to children who are hearing impaired. Two brothers, Bunna, age 15, and Lina, age 10, are just two young people that go to this school.

“I felt unhappy when my parents first brought me to stay here, and they went back home. My younger brother, Lina, cried that day. I tried to talk to and comfort him till he fell asleep. So, it was difficult at first but now that we have settled in, we are happier, and we learn better,” said Bunna. 

Bunna and Lina.
Bunna and Lina.

The school is one of very few where children who are hearing impaired can gain a higher education and access the support needed to achieve this. The school is run by the Cambodian Government and receives support from a cohort of not-for-profit organisations.

At the school, each child can access accommodation, food and any supplies needed for school. The school is free so that any child can attend, no matter their socio-economic background.

One project staff member working at a local partner organisation Khmer NGO for Education (KHEN), Mr Sophat is passionate about this school. He believes that all children, regardless of whether they live with a hearing impairment or other disability, should be able to access an education. Mr. Sophat said: “Parents do not want to send their deaf child to that particular school because they are concerned for their child’s well-being while they are apart, and they knew nothing about the school.”

To help the parents understand how the school functions, ChildFund and KHEN ran school tours for them. Then they could see where their child would live, and it helped them build trust in the school. The parents were more confident that their child would be safe and cared for while at the school.

Local authorities also accompanied the group to support the tour, answer any questions and encourage them to send their hearing impaired children to gain an education at the school. The school now has six children with hearing impairments ranging in age from six to 14.

“In contrast to my previous school, where I struggled to understand what the teacher was saying, my teacher here has been tremendously encouraging,” said Bunna.

The brothers are also excited about making new friends. “I feel very happy that I can now make more friends. Earlier, I used to become quite stressed out when I couldn’t comprehend what people were saying. I have a lot of friends here, and we get along great and support one another in class. Indeed, all my pals are deaf, but we can still communicate to one another and have fun playing together.”

When the children go home on weekends or for school holidays, they keep in touch through Facebook Messenger, FaceTime and other online platforms.

“The project gives deaf children in my community a fresh future, enabling them to communicate, learn, and avoid exclusion not like older deaf before ChildFund arrived,” said Ms. Sareth, one local community leader.

This school is a part of the Disability Empowerment and Education project aims to provide children with all types of disabilities – physical or intellectual – with basic children rights. This means access to health care, education, and the opportunity to contribute to their community.

Learn more about how ChildFund Cambodia is working with local communities and partners to make sure that children living with hearing impairment and other disabilities can access an education and have a chance at a brighter future.

You can also help to support education for hearing impaired children by signing up to donate monthly to ChildFund. With your help, many more children will be supported to go to school and to complete their education. That includes girls, children with disabilities, and children from ethnic minorities.