How has your faith and Salesian journey been so far?
At Sunbury, I was able to be introduced to the teachings and life of Don Bosco. At school, we were taught many lessons about the importance of being present with the youth. I also gained insights into what “Salesianity” is, through various camps and family connections.
Do you have any previous volunteer experience in Australia?
This is my first experience as a volunteer overseas. It has always been a goal of mine to do something of this nature, however; I was just waiting for the right time.
How did you find out about the Cagliero Project for missionary volunteers?
I was introduced to the Cagliero Project through my sister who took up the challenge many years ago in Samoa. Following her, my brother also joined the Cagliero Project a few years after. Watching them, and the amazing things they accomplished, gave me the desire to do the same. From then on, it was more a matter of ‘when’ not ‘will I’.
How was your formation before the arrival to East Timor?
The formation before we (myself and Natanya de Dilva, the volunteer in Cambodia) left for the volunteer work was very insightful and taught me things that I would never have been able to explain or get a good grasp of. These included understanding myself and how I deal with certain situations. It also gave me a clear understanding of what the expectations from a Salesian standpoint are for me during my time.
My first few weeks in Los Palos were great. I was immediately made to feel at home and was able to get straight into some teaching for the first week. I quickly realised that I was going to be fine living here as the food was nice, the weather was nice, there was sport everyday, and most importantly the people of Don Bosco and Los Palos were very kind to me.
What is your daily life as a Cagliero volunteer in Los Palos?
My daily life consists of Mass in the morning, followed by breakfast, a little bit of work in the garden and then taking one of the boys off to pre-school. After I return, I usually have to entertain myself by hanging out with the Orphans; if the Pre-Novices have work, then I might help or sometimes I will have an English class. Just before lunch, I go and help prepare the food and the table. After lunch, I usually chill out for a bit and if it is a Tuesday or Thursday I will run a class for the Orphans. At 3:30 every day we start work in the garden until 4:30 when everyone goes to play sport. I usually play basketball, however I sometimes join in with soccer. After sports, I shower, help prepare dinner and then if I have some time, assist the Orphans with their study. Straight after dinner, I will usually walk and talk with the Pre-Novices so they can practice their English. This continues until the goodnight which is the last activity before bed.
What have you learnt from the Timorese young people?
I am having an amazing time and am learning a lot about life from these boys who have very little. As young people, we do not get caught up in problems of the world but rather focus on ourselves and what is important to us and the people around us. As an adult, now I am seeing that my mindset has shifted. These boys have helped ground me and remind me of the things which truly make us happy. In return, I teach them sometimes.