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Visit from Alma Nuns from Timor – Leste

From Richard Bryant,  Social Justice Coordinator

Visits from Paul Stewart from the Jesuit Social Services (JSS) and two Alma nuns

During the week Year Ten were very fortunate to be visited by Paul Stewart from the Jesuit Social Services (JSS) and two Alma nuns Sister Anastasia and Sister Gertrudis who spoke about the work they do in Timor-Leste. Paul Stewart has a long connection with Timor, hence his very visible passion for the work that is done there. Paul’s brother Tony, was one of the five journalists, known as the Balibo five, killed in East Timor in 1978. During his time as the front man for the Painters and Dockers and now currently a member of the Dili All-stars, Paul has continued to work with the people of Timor-Leste raising awareness for the plight of organisations like the Alma nuns who work tirelessly for the disabled poor of Timor-Leste.

Both of the Alma nuns shared their story of what they do on a daily basis. Each morning begins at 4.30 am for prayer. After this and before breakfast they begin washing and feeding the between 35 to 40 young children who are orphans with high needs disabilities. We soon realised that caring for a disabled child in developing countries like Timor-Leste, West Papua and Indonesia, with their lack of basic care programs, specialised equipment and trained health workers, takes dedication and passion like these Alma Nuns possess. They receive no funding from the Timor government and run their program on donations given to them.

We were humbled by what the Alma nuns do with such limited finances but such passion for the service of others. They manage a budget of $50 dollars a day that covers three meals a day and activities like, aiding the visually impaired to live a fuller life through the use of “blind cane” and working to teach sign language to the hearing impaired. They also provide educational activities for those suffering major long term disabilities such as muscular dystrophy, developmental disabilities and many other intellectual disabilities. These activities range from reading to them, painting with them or where possible playing some physical games like football.

This is the first time they have come to Australia in the hope to raise some funds and awareness of what they do. We were so grateful to them and Paul for coming to Waverley College and sharing their stories with us. Next year on the Timor-Leste immersion we hope to visit them and raise a little bit more money for the work they do.