Louisa Cataldo – Holy Family Care Centre, South Africa
It is the most beautiful setting here, surrounded by the mountains and lush green bush, there are also many farming plantations, mainly mango, banana and papaya and we are not far from the various game parks such as Kreuger. The Holy Family Care Centre itself is very well set up and the children have lots of room to play and many large trees to climb and sit under- the mango trees are huge.
The children here are the most disadvantaged of the poor and vulnerable in this province of South Africa. They have been abandoned, abused in ways unimaginable and many of them are HIV positive. This place truly is a refuge where they are well looked after, loved and cared for by the Sisters, the local ‘aunties”, ”uncles” and volunteers. However, children are children anywhere you go in the world and Holy Family children are no different!!
I am happy to be here and I am looking forward to the many experiences this role will bring. It will take time for me to find my feet and also deal with the very poor level of education that these children are receiving in the surrounding village schools.
Samantha Haddin – Escola Primaria Sabracalaran & Escola Primaria Bedois, Dili, Timor-Leste
My first two weeks have been filled with new experiences. The Timorese people have been overwhelmingly welcoming. Everyone has been trying to do as much as they can to make us feel comfortable and at home. We are currently staying with the priests in their home as our house hasn’t been finished yet.
The children here are not that much different to you! They love to play and laugh and they absolutely love soccer! Everywhere you go, you see Cristano Ronaldo!
The school and classrooms however are quite different. No SMARTboards, no computers, no Maths materials, no displays on the walls… just a chalkboard and their writing books.
The teachers are all very nice and have been helping me learn Tetun too. One of the teachers, says that she wants to learn English so that one day, she will be able to have a conversation with me. I tell her that I want to learn Tetun so that one day I will be able to have a conversation with her. So we are learning from each other, which has been really lovely, not to mention helpful!
The children are very eager to learn and even though I can’t speak their language yet, we somehow understand each other by doing a lot of ‘acting out’. School is also divided into two sessions – the morning session (8:30am – 12:30pm) for the younger students and the afternoon session (1:30pm – 5:30pm) for the older students.
Now, you may be thinking, “Only 4 hours of school a day?? AWESOME!”. But wait just a minute… the children also have to come to school on Saturday! It’s only for the morning, but still it’s school nonetheless.
Timor Leste really is quite a stunning country. I’m constantly amazed by its natural beauty and how the people here are taking every opportunity to invest in making their country the best it can be.