One of the poorest countries in Asia, East Timor (Timor-Leste) is lacking in basic infrastructure and access to water after a decades long struggle for independence against Indonesia. 50 – 60% of the children (and their mothers) are malnourished due to a diet consisting of mainly rice and carbohydrates. Women in Timor Leste have endured years of violent opression, abuse of human rights, displacement and sexual violence. Timor Leste is the 2nd porest country in Asia, after Afghanistan. I travelled here independently to Soibada, in a remote mountain village. For more information on travelling to Soibada, or for information on how to help you can check out: Pittwater friends of Soibada. Medical or engineering expertise is warmly welcomed.
Photos by Tanya Lake
Young girls hold offerings for an church service. They have travelled overland for a week to arrive in Soibada, an international pilgrimage site. 99% of East Timorese are devoutly Catholic.
A mother holds her child in the remote mountain village of Tasi Fatin, hoping for medication for her sick child.
A woman burns rubbish in the remote mountain village of Soibada .
At 16 yrs old, orphans must leave their remote mountain orphange near the village of Soibada. Here younger orphans look on as their colleagues graduate. Most will travel to the capital Dili where they hope to find employment as cleaners or in a convent.
Artist Patricio Cruz Quintao stands on his front porch with his children . After learning his craft of painting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Cruz Quintao returned to his remote village to paint life as he understood it; with the dangers of children in front of screens and becoming removed from society due to Nintendo & Facebook .
A girl idles in a tree in the remote mountain village of Soibada .
Children from the remote mountain village of Tasi Fatin gather in the community hall .
Sister Manuela is one of 2 nuns who run a remote mountain orphanage, raising around 200 children, many of whose parents were killed in the war of independence against Indonesia. Here she walks with a graduated orphan, now living independently. Although he towers over her he treats her with utmost respect.
Women and children in the remote village of Tasi Fatin .
Villagers gather in the remote mountain village of Tasi Fatin .
A young orphan peers through the gates of an orphanage near the remote village of Soibada, Timor Leste .
A woman weeps over her fathers grave.