November 3 - 9, 2013: Issue 135

 Timor Leste Day at Sacred Heart School, Mona Vale

Tamara Sloper Harding speaking with kindergarten and Grade 1 students. 

 Timor Leste Day at Sacred Heart School, Mona Vale - Friday 1st of Nov‏ember, 2013

A friendship agreement between the Sacred Heart school of Mona Vale and the small school in the village of Tasi Fatin, one of eight satellite ‘sub-villages’ of Soibada, was begun a little while back. Letters have been exchanged, children have been finding out more and more about life in Timor Leste, raising awareness as much as creating friends in another land. The children of Sacred Heart at Mona Vale feel a special affinity with Soibada as the church there is called The Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This wonderful old building is the oldest church in Timor-Leste. 

On Friday Tamara Sloper Harding, chairlady of the Pittwater Friends of Soibada, visited the school to share more insights, read a traditional story to younger grades and share insights into a day in the life of a Timor Leste child with older grades. The children had a ‘mufti’ day and dressed in the colours of Timor Lest – red, black and yellow.

Popular as part of this was a question time where lots of hands shot up and asked about everything from how many children are in Tasi Fatin’s school (70 – it is only a small school and many children around the village cannot attend) – to what Tasi Fatin children sleep on (Mats on a, usually, dirt floor).

During a recent visit to Tasi Fatin of Pittwater Friends of Soibada members, discussions of how to empower the villagers took place and one item that arose was the hope of educating Tasi Fatin village members in how to grow nutritious crops and then the planting out and maintaining of a Community Garden. The funding for the education phase was achieved through the Songs for Soibada concert held earlier this year. 

The Sacred Heart school of Mona Vale has a group called ‘Mini Vinnies’ which is the social justice group at Sacred Heart open to all students in years 4 – 6. Three teaches, Chris McBryde, Lisa Firman and Sonja Mastroianni coordinate the activities. Virpi Tuite , a mother of two students at the school, is also a member of the Sacred Heart Mona Vale Social Justice Group.

During recent discussions it was decided to try and raise some funds towards the community garden for Tasi Fatin and the children decided to draw a chalk outline of the Timor Leste flag and ask each student to bring a coin or two, silver or gold, and they would try and cover these chalk lines with these. 

Extra funds were raised through the selling of bookmarks and chocolate crocodiles Tamara brought with her - the crocodiles disappearing pretty quickly !

An amazing amount of $1,016.45 was raised, which is a quarter of the $4,000 required to set up the community garden in Tasi Fatin. The Mini Vinnies team should be very proud!

Earlier this year the Mini Vinnies team sent eight students to Maria Regina to attend the East Timor Independence Day celebrations, which the children enjoyed and found very insightful. 

Mini Vinnies  - 2013.

Left to right: Jarrod, Blake, Angus, Leah and Milly - tech Crew, School Photographer and coin-flag supervisors on Friday. 

Report and Pictures by A J Guesdon, 2013.