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May 30, 2005

Faces of Hope

Yesterday we visited the HOPE orphanage in the nearby mountain village of Gleno, run by our new Timorese friends Ina and Isa. It turned out to a truly enlightening experience for all of us - an incredible story of how good can come from bad.

The orphanage was set up in 2001 to service the immediate needs of 25 children whose parents were either killed by the Indonesian occupation forces and militia in or around 1999, or who have since died of diseases such as tuberculosis. The moment we arrived the kids were flocking all around the windows of the vehicle, shaking our hands and welcoming us in both local Teton and English. They were perhaps the most polite and well-mannered children I have ever met, and right from the get-go we were all very much in awe of how much warmth and enthusiasm they were capable of showing complete strangers considering the atrocities many of them had witnessed against close family members at first hand.


Take Moses here for example, whose parents were hacked to death by machetes and left for dead himself with a 3-inch slice through the forehead. For all intents and purposes he should have died also, but somehow survived. His growth is stunted due to the injuries and trauma sustained, but you wouldn't know it from his smiling face and bubbly personality that captured our hearts instantly.


Or little Dulcita who was raped by 9 soldiers when she was just 4 years old. Today she is still suffering from recurrent infections, and her face bears a permanent reminder of the horror she experienced. Painfully shy of us newcomers at first, she slowly warmed to us and by the end of the day was feeling comfortable enough to hug and hold hands with the adults while on our afternoon walk through the nearby rice padi fields.


The longterm concept is to give these children a loving, nurturing environment until the point when they can fly the nest. The intention is then for the premises to be turned over to the local village either to continue as an orphanage or be used as some other community resource. One short-term goal is to raise funds to build a workshop and craft area for the kids to learn traditional skills and modern trades that would help them make a living later on.

Lourdes, Chris and I would like to thank Ina, Isa, the staff and the orphans themselves for letting us share a day in their inspirational lives. As we discussed when we returned to the Venture Hotel in Dili where we are staying, none of us have ANYTHING to complain about EVER!

If you are interested in pledging some money for their workshop via our 501 (c) 3 Organisation in the US, please leave a comment below. The place is incredibly well run with the kids sharing all of the daily chores and responsibilities. So I have no doubt it would be a worthy cause to support.

Posted on May 30, 2005 9:39 AM


You know that orphans are dear to me - would be honored to do what I can. Could pledge at least $100 for now - anyone else? Its not a lot but every little bit? darcia

Posted by: darcia at May 31, 2005 7:08 AM