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We help educate Timor-Leste's greatest resource - its' children
Timor-Leste is one of our closest neighbours - only a one hour flight from Darwin. 90% of Timor-Leste’s schools were destroyed in 1999 by Indonesian backed militia following the end of Indonesia’s 24 year occupation of Timor-Leste. Throughout the country, children are learning in schools which are at risk of collapse, useless in the rainy season, or massively overcrowded. In many cases they simply don’t go to school.
How do we do this?
We build schools in remote parts of Timor-Leste
The Timor-Leste government is working hard to build the schools its’ children need, however its funds are limited. Between 2009 and 2014 we completed seven school projects with Kirsty Sword Gusmão as part of the Rural Schools Development Program. Since that time, we have worked independently, under a Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Timor-Leste Ministry of Education.
We ask the Ministry of Education which of their schools are in great need of new buildings and toilets, but which they do not have the budget to assist. We then do our due diligence to choose a school in a supportive and proactive community and obtain quotes for the work. Our donors are sent the project details and cost and when we have sufficient funds we start construction – the build usually takes 4 or 5 months. Our project manager, Agostinho, works directly with the builders and visits schools regularly during construction to monitor progress. Once the school is completed, we hand the buildings over to the government, which is then responsible for maintaining them, running the school and paying the teachers.
We run school garden projects
Timor-Leste has one of the worst rates of children’s malnutrition in the world – the World Food Program’s 2023 Report found that 47% of children under 5 have stunting (severe malnutrition). This has consequences for their future health, education, productivity and capacity.
We have established and manage 3 school garden projects, growing fruit and vegetables for the children’s school lunches. These are very low cost programs – it costs A$2,800 to establish and run a school garden for the first year and A$1,700 each year after that.
We provide desks and chairs
There is a great shortage of school furniture in Timor-Leste. Children often share school chairs, sit on the ground or don’t go to school at all. We partner with Rotary Donations in Kind in Melbourne to save great quality second hand school furniture from landfill in Australia and deliver them to the children in Timor-Leste who need them. To do this we need donations for the shipping cost from Australia – A$25 for a desk and chair for one child. We’ve been able to send furniture for 2,200 children to date.
We provide playgrounds
Rotary in Australia works to salvage, clean, repair and store good quality playgrounds which are being replaced and would otherwise be sent to landfill. When we’re able to find donors to provide the shipping and transport cost, we bring those playgrounds to Timor and install them at schools where we work.
We use 100% of donations on the project the donor chooses
No donor money is spent on administrative or fundraising costs – these are all paid for by our founders. Our donors choose the project they want to assist and receive regular photos and updates – many actually visit the projects with us.