I want for the children in the future to look forward, to look for something.


The Agent of Mission in remote Timor-Leste

The work of the Maria Auxiliadora Clinic in Venilale is a great example of how missionaries and local communities work together to address grassroots issues.

In a small village near Venilale, Olinda Maria is the wife of the former chief of the village of Fatulia, a very well-respected position in the local community.

Building on the trust they had established in Venilale, the Salesian Sisters realised that Olinda could be key in ensuring the good health of the people of Fatulia. Her social status and her wisdom made her someone people trust and look up to.

Olinda says, “The first consideration is how are you going to get people to trust you. You need to sit with them, talk with them. Have a look at what the inside of their house looks like. They like me because I go and talk with them.”

Olinda developed more connections as she visited homes around the village, encouraging them to go to the Clinic to receive proper treatment when needed.

“I knew by observing: if they were coughing and spitting all the time, I used my gut feeling and knew it was possible they were suffering from a certain type of illness. I could recognise it,” says Olinda.

To help her identify different illnesses, the Sisters provided her with basic training to direct the patient to the Clinic if needed. The two most common illnesses that Olinda has learned to look out for are tuberculosis and malnutrition, both prevalent in the village.

With dedication and the support of the Salesian Sisters, Olinda has helped many people get treatment. Even as she ages, OIinda continues to help the Sisters promote health awareness.

“I want for the children in the future to look forward to something. They need to have a strong desire to achieve something,” Olinda says on the generations to follow.