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Water is a basic life resource, and what comes with water is life in its full potential. When water is made available to communities, the potential for livelihood is reinforced and health and sanitation are improved.
Timor-Leste is Asia’s youngest country, achieving independence only in 2002. Today, almost half of the country’s population live in extreme poverty. Since the establishment of independence, the Jesuits have been accompanying the local communities in Timor-Leste to help build a better future. In Timor-Leste, 65% of the population lives in rural areas in small, dispersed villages isolated by mountainous terrain and poor road conditions. In remote areas, easy access to clean water and sanitation is often non-existent. Families living in these communities are forced to walk long distances to collect water. Collecting water is often hard work, and so families use water for only the most essential needs, such as drinking and cooking. This means that other tasks that require water, such as handwashing, are reduced, and this can lead to poor hygiene and an increased number of health problems. In response to this situation, Jesuit Mission supports the Water Project, set-up by the local Jesuits in Timor-Leste.
"Even after 20 years of independence many Timorese living in rural areas still do not have access to basic water facilities. We thought that as Jesuits we could help the government and help lessen this burden on people by starting the water project.”
- Fr Júlio Sosa SJ, Director of Jesuit Social Services Timor-Leste. The Water Project’s primary aim is to support rural communities and help provide clean and safe water. It does this through working with communities to construct clean water infrastructure such as deep well pumps. The project involves community members in the planning, construction and maintenance of the water sources, so that they have a sense of ownership and responsibility of water system. This leads to a strengthened sense of community, as well as long-term sustainability of the water infrastructure.

A community in Timor-Leste gathers together for the inauguration of the water system.

“When we were about to drill the wells the people gathered to pray for success. When the water came, they were so overjoyed, thanking God for giving them water at long last.”
- Marselinus Oki, Jesuit Social Services Water Project Engineer
Families are now able to collect water safely and easily right near their homes. As a result, people are able to have proper baths, families have been able to use water for planting vegetables in their backyard, and children are able to attend school because they no longer spend hours each day collecting water. Since 2018, Jesuit Mission has partnered with Jesuit Social Service (JSS) Timor-Leste and 12 communities assisting a total of 1,110 households (4,887 individuals) with safe access to clean water.  In addition, to the water project, the sanitation project began in early 2021, which includes the installation of sanitation systems and their promotion to improve hygiene practices and the standard of heath. Over three years, the project plans to instal 18 clean and safe water facilities and 45 sanitation facilities.
"We have given 15 units of toilets to 15 families in 4 different sub-villages. This project is an initiative to remind us all on the importance of sanitary facilities for these communities.”
- Fr Júlio Sosa SJ, Director of Jesuit Social Services Timor-Leste.

Jonia's Story

For Jonia, a 28 year old mother, village chief, part-time coffee worker and graduate of the Jesuit-run secondary school NOSSEF, the installation of a water facility on her doorstep in Railaco has dramatically improved her community.
“It is all totally different now. Our house is very close to the water tank, just a few metres away. We can use it any time we like”
With clean water now nearby, Jonia's community is experiencing new agricultural opportunities and an improved standard of hygiene. Children no longer have the burden of collecting water before and after school.
“Water helps our children grow. We want them to be teachers, doctors, and engineers. We want them to have a good life.”
- Jonia.

Jonia and her family.

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