Salesian needs in India, Timor
Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil in the Nagaon hospital building with the sisters who will be responsible for the medical care
Two Salesian men, from different parts of the world, have visited Sydney in recent times and spoke in depth with The Catholic Weekly about their ministries.
The first, Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil, who visited in 2001, was dedicated to easing the health crisis in his very poor diocese of Assam in north-eastern India.
And Br Marcal Lopes, headmaster of Don Bosco Technical School in Fatumaca, Timor-Leste, was here last September to share his story of investing in the education of that country’s young people.
They approached the Salesians Missions Office in Melbourne to update us on their work, and ask for
Here are their stories:
EDUCATION IN TIMOR-LESTE
“East Timor, now officially known as Timor-Leste, became a nation in May 2002,” writes Br Marcal Lopes, headmaster of Don Bosco Technical School, in Fatumaca, Timor-Leste.
“We are a very poor country. It has been a very tough year.
“I have received letters asking me to nominate Timor-Leste’s greatest need.
“What can I say? We need everything!”
Br Marcal says: “Many Timorese expect the government to provide employment, medical and health services, resources for schools and to maintain law and order.
“In reality, the government has very little income; they don’t have money for everything.”
He says the Catholic Church is stepping into the breach and making a significant contribution to the country, primarily through religious congregations who operate schools and medical clinics on meagre budgets.
The Salesians run primary and high schools, two technical schools and an agricultural school, in the capital Comoro (Dili) and the regions of Baucau, Fatumaca, Fuiloro, Laga, Lospalos and Venilale.
Donations from Australia have helped pay the teachers’ wages and provided essential resources for the schools, says Br Marcal.
And many gifts in kind, sent from the Salesian Mission’s Office in Melbourne have reduced his costs, too.
He has received desks and chairs, teaching materials, secondhand computers, electrical workshop materials, agricultural equipment, stationery and sporting equipment.
Br Marcal took part in a national education conference in Dili in early April, which was aimed at developing an overall education strategy for the nation and guidelines for a Timorese school curriculum.
“Education is really the key to growth and the rebuilding of the Timor-Leste economy,” he says.
“And while our aim is to be self-reliant, I know we will need further support from outside for some little while yet.”
HEALTH IN ASSAM, INDIA
Donations from Australia have helped to fund the construction of a new hospital in the state of Assam, in north-eastern India, says Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil.
The Mercy Hospital site in Nagaon was blessed on December 10 last year.
But Archbishop Menamparampil says this is just
the beginning of his work.
“We have started,” he says. “We trust in God and our friends to help us to get the funds ($A155,000), to finish the project,” he says.
He also wants to build community health clinics in the areas of Coalpara, Guwahati and Nagaon, plus two more hospitals.
About 6.5 million people live in the Assam diocese.
Most people belong to ethnic tribes, are illiterate and very poor and live by subsistence farming.
The Salesians are running an appeal to build the medical facilities needed to tackle health problems in the region, including rampant cholera, tuberculosis, dysentery, typhoid, scabies and high infant mortality.
Donations to the Assam Hospital Appeal and the Salesian’s work in Timor Leste may be sent to the Salesian Missions Office PO Box 80 Oakleigh VIC 3166.