I write to thank you, my good friends in Australia.
I am very grateful for the help you have given to our schools via the Australian Salesians Mission Office.
With your help we have been able to pay teachers and keep the schools open during the past year. There are 45 primary and three junior high schools with more than 6,000 students in the parish.
In addition, with your help our school luncheon program is operating in five schools: Laga (250 students), Baguia (250 students), Quelicai (150 students), Hosuna (70 students) and Tequinuamada (120 students).
The luncheon program is very popular and is meeting a real need. A great proportion of the children have nothing to eat in the morning and many walk for more than an hour to get to school.
And for a large number of the youngsters the meal they get at school is the best meal they have for the day.
The past two years have been very difficult for the local people in this district. We have been in severe drought. Last year the rain came too late for the corn harvest and more than 50 percent of the farmers had nothing to reap.
Though we have had rain this year, much of it has been patchy and it remains to be seen what sort of a rice harvest there will be for the farmers.
Right now many local people are really desperate. More than 2,000 families have come to me in the past three weeks seeking help. They are asking for food. Many of these are widows with young children.
Needless to say if you can see your way clear to continue to assist us in this difficult time, I will be very grateful. The Salesian Mission Office (PO Box 80, Oakleigh Vic 3166) will forward your donation.
We are praying for you and your families. May the Lord bless you and reward your generosity.
Please pray for us - the priests and sisters in the Laga parish, as well as teachers, the students and their parents.
FR MARCOS DE OLIVIERA SDB
Laga, East Timor