Timor Leste

This project began when Maria Regina Catholic School in Avalon was allocated the village school of Soibada as its' sister school. The project now involves the broader Pittwater community.

Summary of Learnings

Back in 2007, His Excellency Abel Guterres (Ambassador of East Timor) allocated the village school of Soibada as the sister school for Maria Regina Catholic School in Avalon.

Since then this partnership has been expanded to linking the people of the Soibada village to the broader Pittwater community. This connection has largely been facilitated by the work of people at the Maria Regina Catholic School, particularly the school Social Justice Team which consists of parents, teachers and students.

This project has now extended to the wider Pittwater community through the “Friends of Soibada” and a commitment by the local council to this initiative.

The connection made between the school and community in Soibada has many levels. At the basis of this relationship is a friendship, a solidarity. This friendship is expressed in many ways through both education and financial support.

A variety of activities support student learning about the people of Soibada and life in Timor Leste. Education programs about Timor Leste are integrated into student lessons.

Examples of these activities and programs include:

Kindergarten: How does a school work? Students learn about their sister school in Soibada.

Stage One: Why is it important to care for our waterways? Year One and Two students learn about how their fundraising to provide clean water for the students of Soibada focusing on sanitation and hygiene.

Stage Two: How do children from neighbouring countries live? Students view footage of life in Timor Leste.

Stage Three: How can we be good neighbours and global citizens? Students reflect on their commitment to action and work to lead our fundraising initiatives and sustain friendships.


Other activities aimed at developing student awareness and the development of the friendship between the students and their sister school in Soibada have included letter writing, knitting blankets, prayer and regular student discussions about the ways in which our lives differ.

These activities do not have fundraising as their objective, more so they bring students to an awareness of life in Soibada.


As part of the efforts to educate students a documentary has been made which provides insight to the hardships the children in this area face in daily life.

The students of Maria Regina also created a documentary for the students of Soibada about Maria Regina.


Support is also provided for the people of Soibada through fundraising efforts.

Year Six students from Maria Regina worked together and attended a workshop as a team to devise a sustainable plan for fundraising for their sister school in Soibada.

These ideas were further developed by the Student Representative Council and put into action. Through these activities the students have learnt first-hand the importance of financial assistance to the Soibada community.

Maria Regina students have developed a sustainable, profound commitment to philanthropic work connected to Timor Leste.

This project has also been extended to the wider Pittwater community who have also become committed to helping the people of Soibada become self-reliant, helping them through sustainable initiatives to develop their own resources.

Both the school children and the local community have become very active and committed and there is a strong sense of long-term strategy to grow and nurture this project.

Summary of Learnings

  • The project had small beginnings but has been able to expand and touch the lives of many through collaboration and creative engagement
  • The focus of the project is not charity but friendship and solidarity
  • Due to the diversity of the project many in the community have been able to share their gifts


  • The intent of the project is friendship, education and action
  • The project has expanded beyond the Catholic community to the wider Avalon community


Catholic Diocese of
Broken Bay

Building 2, 423 Pennant Hills Road
Pennant Hills NSW 2120

PO Box 340
Pennant Hills NSW 1715

Phone 02 9847 0000
Fax 02 9847 0001

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