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Marist Bulletin - Number 15


Marists join Timorese in rebuilding

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After the referendum for independence in East Timor in August 1999, the Indonesian army, together with local militia groups, looted and destroyed many homes, schools and public buildings as they withdrew from the new nation. Many people, including church workers, were murdered. The Timorese people were left to launch their independence with the countrys infrastructure in ruins.
The United Nations is currently engaged in helping to rebuild the countrys political, social and economic structures. However, it has been left to the Catholic Church to replace/restore and operate much of the property it used for education.
At the invitation of Bishop Basilio do Nascimento in the Diocese of Baucau, in the eastern part of the country, the Marist Brothers have now entered this picture.
Bishop do Nascimento has asked the Brothers to address two priorities in education. First, to establish teacher training courses, and eventually to take responsibility for a centre in Baucau. Prior to independence, most of East Timors teachers were from Indonesia. Their abrupt departure left the countrys educational institutions with very few teachers at every level of instruction. For this project, the Marist Brothers have received some financial aid from donors and dioceses in Australia. The centre is now open, training local Timorese teachers in village settings as well as in Bacau.
The second project given to this new international group of Marists - the Brothers come from Australia, Brazil, New Zealand and Portugal - has been far more challenging to plan and fund. Most of the schools in the country lie in ruins. The Bishop has asked the Marist Brothers to restore and develop a school in the remote town of Laclubar. The region is mountainous, roads unpaved, and travel difficult. The Brothers are now living with the people there and planning the restoration of existing school buildings and the construction of a new vocational and agricultural unit to train young people, equipping them to return to their outlying villages with the education and skills they need to assist their people. The Brothers are struggling to fund this unit because donor organizations are already starting to turn their attention from East Timor to other parts of the globe.
It is the hope of the East Timorese people, and of the new international Marist Brothers community in Laclubar, that this Marist project - to restore a primary and secondary school for village children, and establish a small new vocational unit for the training of young adults - can become a reality in the year 2002. This would mean making Saint Marcellins dream of providing children and young people, those most in need in rural areas, with a new start in life.
Br. Steven Bugg, fms; Sector Superior
March 2002 Bulletin of the Bureau of International Solidarity

We at the Marist Bulletin wish all our subscribers and readers a blessed Easter Triduum and a joyful celebration of Lord’s Resurrection and His immeasurable love for us.

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