Aussies bearing gifts beat a path to nuns’ door

An Alma Nun welcome Australian visitors (Paulie Stewart)

The Alma Nuns in East Timor’s capital of Dili tend to many of the nation’s disabled children, and are starting to be widely acknowledged for their amazing work, writes Paulie Stewart on the Jesuit Mission website.

In the past few years, the Alma Nuns have expanded their modest operations by receiving a donated van from Australia, constructing two classrooms at their premises for the children to learn skills and by extending their work to East Timor’s poorer rural districts.

It is wonderful to witness the support the sisters now receive from Australians from all walks of life.

Earlier this year, Australian children’s entertainers The Wiggles donated a shipment of toys, clothes and sporting equipment to the sisters. For some children this was their first ever "present".

There is a regular trail of visitors who drop in to see the sisters with gifts of cash and toys, clothes, educational material and sports goods. Just dropping in to say "hi" is a real thrill for the sisters, who also take advantage to practise their English.

Recently, Melburnian Sharman Williamson and her daughters dropped off two much-needed sewing machines, which will allow the sisters to teach a trade to some of the girls in their care.

“I am still so deeply moved after meeting the sisters, who do such amazing work,” Ms Williamson said.

“They were blown away and just so grateful when we gave them the two sewing machines they had been requesting. I love the sisters and I’m now am committed to helping them after my visit.

“I don’t often cry but found myself tearing up on a number of occasions in their presence. The care and love they give to those disabled children is just fantastic.”

The Alma Nuns face constant hardships as they rely on donations from supporters for a lot of their finances. You can donate to the Alma Nuns c/o Jesuit Mission, PO Box 193, North Sydney 2059.

- Paulie Stewart is a project officer for Jesuit Social Services in Melbourne and is a member of rock band Painters and Dockers.


The inspiring Alma Nuns (Jesuit Mission)

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