Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Meeting Timor-Leste’s future teachers, doctors and nurses

I am a director on the board of ChildFund Australia and recently I visited ChildFund’s programs for children in Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste is home to over 1.1 million people, 70% of whom live in rural areas. Against a backdrop of limited socio-economic growth, children and youth in Timor-Leste, particularly those in living rural areas, experience extreme poverty. The majority of students do not continue schooling after grade four.

Gains have been made since independence in 2002 but there is a long way to go – especially for children. Sixty per cent of the population is under the age of 25.

These sobering facts were on my mind as we travelled to Liquica – a stunningly beautiful, mountainous district nestling many small villages. Amidst this beauty the difficult terrain creates myriad daily challenges for the people who live there.

ChildFund is working with local communities and partners in Liquica to improve nutrition, health and education. We visited two schools and sat in on a reading project being facilitated by ChildFund’s local partner Mary McKillop Today.  The project is focused on literacy and reading.

Happy and enthusiastic six-year-olds were learning the words for different professions and choosing puppets depicting what they would like to be when they grow up. Among the featured professions were teachers, police, doctors, and nurses.

Interactive, fun lessons are making a difference for children in Timor-Leste.

The quality of teaching was superb. If these children are supported to stay in school, they may be the first generation in their families to complete their education beyond grade four and it is entirely possible that they really will go on to become Timor-Leste’s teachers, police officers, nurses and doctors.

I donate to ChildFund’s program in Timor-Leste because I believe in their projects and I can see that thanks to ChildFund many of these children may escape poverty if they and their families are supported. Timor-Leste is just an hour north of Australia. They are our neighbours. I encourage you to help too.

Donate now and support children in Timor-Leste.

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