Timor-Leste lies just 400kms north of Darwin and, having gained independence in 2002 after 25 years of Indonesian occupation, is slowly recovering from the trauma of those years. Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in the world. It is for this reason, in seeking to respond to the Gospel by ‘going where the need is greatest’, the Loreto Sisters established a foundation in 2006. Half the population is under 17 years so the need for education is significant.
The Loreto Sisters live and work in two communities – Sisters Margaret Mary Flynn and Selvi Adaikalam in the larger centre of Baucau, and Sisters Margie Bourke and Ai Thien Nguyen in the village of Gari-uai.
Sister Ai Thien is Director of ‘Centro Loreto,’ a pre-school and community centre which supports and encourages the development of local teachers who, each year, provide quality education for 70 young children.
Sister Margie regularly visits the sick and elderly living in more remote parts of the Gari-uai village. She responds to health needs by organising visits from the local clinic or by driving them to the hospital in Baucau.
In Baucau, both Sisters Margaret Mary and Selvi live and work with young Timorese women wanting to become Loreto Sisters. There are currently six who, as well as engaging in formal learning, spend time in ministry.
Feature Image: Centro Loreto Director, Loreto Sister Ai Thien with students from the pre-primary school.