Dear Alola Supporter,
When we wrote last year of the unprecedented times being faced by the women and children of Timor-Leste, we could not imagine the converging events on the horizon for our closest neighbours. Last month we received word that COVID-19 cases had begun to increase across the country, giving rise to harsh lockdown restrictions that saw food supply chains severed, and left families struggling. In short, many areas of Timor-Leste were ravaged by devastating flooding. Swift and generous action from you, our dedicated supporters, quickly raised over $30,000 to keep displaced women and children safe and healthy in the aftermath, and for this we thank you.
Nevertheless, these are challenging times and the girls of Timor-Leste are facing these and additional barriers to their education. As our supporters are aware, education is the cornerstone of empowerment for women and girls in developing nations, including Timor-Leste. Access to education has unlimited flow on effects to the promotion of gender equality, and as such, the progress and stability of the nation. “Feto Forte, Nasuan Forte” (Strong Women, Strong Nation). This is the vision of Alola.
The Fundasaun Alola Scholarship Program:
The goal of Alola’s Education Program is to improve quality and access to education in Timor-Leste. Alola continues to play a critical role in developing women and children’s rights and the Education Program works to promote the importance of education and whole community involvement. The Scholarship Program is a cornerstone of this endeavour, offering support for funding for school fees, transport, school materials, uniforms, and living costs.
The Scholarship Program targets disadvantaged girls and families especially in remote areas, single-parent families, orphans, gender-based violence survivors, children from large families or those from other situations of risk.
All Scholarship recipients benefit from holistic support as they are welcomed into the Alola family. Recipients are provided with access to other Alola programs based on needs and interests. As Fundasaun Alola CEO, Macu Guterres informs us about the most recent cohort of students:
“Throughout the scholarship journeys, we regularly meet with girls and monitor their academic progress and wellbeing. We work with the girls, their schools and their families to resolve any challenges to continuing their education. The young women who continue to university receive training about sexual and reproductive health, human trafficking, and life-skills. After graduation, we support the young women to find jobs or internships.”
Helping girls like Igilda
Igilda Bernadette dos Santos’ parents died when she and her siblings were young. They were taken care of by her uncle, who already had 5 children of his own. In 2010 when she started High School, Igilda became a recipient of Alola’s Scholarship Program. The scholarship continued until she completed her university degree in Dili. Igilda now works for the Timor-Leste Government in the Ministry of Public Works.
When she heard the scholarship would support her until she completed her tertiary education, her response was,
“I feel very happy. Even though I am an orphan, Alola still paid attention to me. I am so grateful that I could finish my education at University and now I can work for my people. Thank you Alola.”
How to contribute:
Our Education/Scholarship Gift Certificates, available HERE , are priced at $75. This is the baseline to provide education to one student for a year. However, all contributions are welcome.
There are a number of additional ways to make a contribution:
Donations above $2 are tax deductible
A. Online via PayPal HERE
B. Send a cheque made out to: Alola Australia Limited, PO Box 382, Abbotsford, VIC 3067
C. By direct deposit into our bank account as follows:
BSB: 313 140 [Bank Australia] Account Number: 121 844 03
Account Name: Alola Australia
So that we can acknowledge your direct deposit donation and send you a Tax Receipt, please send an email with your name, donation details and amount to firstname.lastname@example.org
As we strive toward a sense of normalcy here in Australia, now is the time to consider meaningful contributions to the progress of our closest neighbours. A contribution to the Scholarship Program is one of the many clear and direct ways you can change individual lives, elevate women and girls, and thereby strengthen Timor-Leste.
With thanks for your support, friendship and solidarity.
Dr Kirsty Sword Gusmão, AO
Chair, Fundasaun Alola