The clinic may only be six months old and located in a classroom in Colégio de Santo Inácio de Loiola (CSIL) in Kasait, but already it has begun community outreach services to nine villages in the broader Ulmera area. The focus has been on raising awareness of hygiene, safe drinking water, sanitation, nutrition and communicable diseases, and organising dental, eye and general medical checks.
The scorching sun may deter some people from venturing out of their homes, but not the hundreds of children hoping to get a place in Colégio de Santo Inácio de Loiola (CSIL). They braved the heat, some travelling for an hour, to go to Kasait for the entrance exam.
In total, 278 candidates for Year 7 and 145 for Year 10 showed up, excited and anxious. They knew that it was going to be tough getting into the school, not just because of the exam but also because there were many more applicants than available places.
The education secretaries within the Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific (JCAP) are increasingly acting and growing as a network. Participation from provinces and regions with schools is strong and the meeting has shifted from mainly sharing updates to discussing areas of possible collaboration and matters of common concern.
The Jesuits in Timor-Leste have launched a new education endeavour for the children in Ulmera, a rural part of the country where the still under construction Jesuit education project is located. Through the Ulmera Project, they aim to increase the chances the children from the Ulmera community have of getting into Colégio de Santo Inácio de Loiola (CSIL), the Jesuit secondary school in Kasait, Ulmera.
Isaías Caldas knows the value of a good education. The Jesuit scholastic grew up in Timor Leste and was one of a privileged few who attended St Joseph College, a Jesuit-run senior high school. But most of his peers had no such luck: their country’s education system had been rendered broken and ineffective by decades of Indonesian occupation and centuries of Portuguese colonisation; their parents were eking out a living in a country on the cusp of independence – surviving from one day to the next took precedence over planning for their children’s future.
Xavier Catholic College Hervey Bay student Julie-Anne Doan’s face lights up as she talks about the experience of meeting and chatting with the young people she’s encountered on the Timor-Leste Immersion Program.
“We’ve been looking at the history, and seeing how much they’ve gone through,” she says. “Yet they’re able to smile and to give to others just as if we’re part of the family. I don’t really want to leave to be honest.”
There was much delight at the recent JCAP Education meeting in two significant developments.
Fr Christopher Gleeson SJ, JCAP Education Secretary and meeting chairman, shared that the group learnt a good deal from inaugural Principal, Fr Plinio, about the beginning in January of the new school in Timor-Leste, Colégio de Santo Inácio de Loiola.