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A new mission in Bedois

Palms Australia volunteers Margaret and Peter Cassidy are spending 2017 living and working in the Catholic Parish of Bedois on the eastern outskirts of the Timor-Leste capital, Dili. After their positive experience hosting Palms volunteer teachers Guida and Sam in 2014-15, the Bedois community keenly looked to Palms again when planning expansion of their primary school programme and establishing a new preschool. The Cassidys were just as keen to take up the invitation.

Catholic Mission joined the partnership to help fund the cost of getting Peter and Margaret to Timor-Leste, supporting also their living allowance and insurance.

Margaret is helping to establish the new preschool and Peter is teaching English to upper primary and junior secondary classes in the two parish schools. As experienced teachers, their mentoring of co-teachers is integral to their classroom responsibilities.

The couple were given a very warm welcome by parish priest Father Alberty and members of the Bedois parish when they arrived in the final week of January 2017. They were provided comfortable and convenient accommodation adjacent to the presbytery and within a week of arriving, were sufficiently settled to begin work.

Fr Alberty  Margaret
Above: Margaret Cassidy and husband Peter were warmly welcomed by Fr Alberty (right). Photo: Supplied. 

The Bedois Preschool is currently housed in the parish hall. The building was divided into three preschool teaching areas, two for four- to five-year-olds and one for three-year-olds. There are five staff and sixty children enrolled at the preschool. At this stage, there are limited teaching and learning resources for the preschool, but it should be much better equipped by the end of the year.

Peter teaches nine classes from grades six to nine, with between 40 and 50 students in each class. Working with three co-teachers, Peter takes each class for a two-hour session each week. The English curricula for the secondary classes are well designed and come with beautifully produced student books. These resources have been invaluable in the process of creating work programmes with co-teachers at each year level.

Initially, because Peter had very limited Tetum (the local language), he used prepared posters for instructions and work activities in Tetum and English to overcome the communication challenges. This strategy proved to be effective and gradually became unnecessary as his relationships with co-teachers developed and they took more active roles in the presentation of lessons. In April, Peter took on a one-week Tetum course at the Dili Institute of Technology.

The programme is set to develop significantly in the second half of the year.

Peter and Margaret Cassidy

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Palms Australia is a Catholic mission agency that contributes to global justice and peace by engaging with communities seeking sustainable solutions to poverty. They support qualified and experienced Australians who volunteer to meet the requests of vital local organisations looking for assistance to build on the strengths of their people. Palms volunteers are comprehensively prepared to build relationships of understanding, acceptance and care so critical to authentic mission.

For more information, enquire here or call Christine on 02 9660 5333.

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