Children in East Timor can head back to their school after it was reopened last week thanks to the tireless efforts of a Gold Coast couple inspired by a Catholic Mission immersion trip, reports The Catholic Leader.
A team from Brisbane’s Catholic Mission visited the town of Ossu to witness the reopening of the war-ravaged, 450-student St Teresinha College – stage one of a building reconstruction project that is the brainchild of Burleigh Heads couple Sue and Bren Milsom.
“We always knew it could happen – Sue and I are a determined pair – but it was sometimes touch and go as to when it would happen,” Mr Milsom said.
The Milsoms have spent much of the past five years raising money in their parish through a craft stall, as well as networking and visiting East Timor to realise stage one of the $250,000 school reconstruction.
The couple first came to East Timor as part of the immersion trip. They fell in love with the people and the place, especially the region of Ossu, in Timor’s mountainous east.
Mrs Milsom paid tribute to Ossu’s teachers, parents and students who adapted to allow for the rebuilding of the senior campus, by relocating onto the nearby primary campus.
“Being a teacher myself, I know what an impact any sort of disruption can have on both your ability to teach and the students’ ability to learn,” Mrs Milsom said.
“The people of Ossu, whose children go to this school and parishioners of St Teresinha have been so patient and flexible; we are delighted that this patience is finally being rewarded and they have somewhere so well-constructed in which the children can continue their education.”
With his extensive knowledge of the Timorese culture, history and people, coupled with his obvious passion, Mr Milsom has recently become a facilitator for Catholic Mission immersion programs.
Photo: Students at the St Teresinha College celebrating the reopening of the school