Autumn 2012 ADRA Works

As one of the newest countries in the world, East Timor faces many challenges. More than half of Timorese live on less than 88 cents a day, and only 58 percent can read and write.

ADRA has begun helping change lives here. A small sign in front of a modest home reads "ADRA Timor-Leste." This is the home of Country Director Luc Sabot, his wife, Anita, and their three children. It is also their office.

Luc and Anita are the only two full-time ADRA staff in East Timor. ADRA is new here, but already Luc and Anita have seen immense needs. "You go into the villages in the rural areas, and they have no access to clean water and no sanitation, and hygiene practice is terrible," says Luc. "In the rural areas, you don't see much development work happening. A lot of money is poured into the country to build the government's capacity, and that's a great thing. But when you go and see some of the needs in the field... there's a lot to be desired. We want to intervene and help the most vulnerable population."

Seven bumpy hours from Dili is the remote district of Viqueque, where the Sabots established a brand-new well-drilling project in the town of Uma Tolu. ADRA is one of just a tiny handful of humanitarian agencies working in the region, because access is so difficult. But the people have needs, so ADRA is here.

"They have the least amount of development work and government infrastructure in this area," Luc tells us. "We did a needs assessment to find out exactly what they need. We chose to deal with education, water, sanitation, hygiene, and health." Luc and Anita have a number of projects in the development phase, but they decided the priority had to be clean water.

The project focuses on the small village of Uma Tolu, where the people relied on a nearby river and shallow wells for drinking water. Both are full of E. coli and other contaminants. To provide a safe alternative, ADRA is drilling 12 wells, each between 20 to 50 meters (66 to 164 feet) deep, and installing hand pumps.

"Before, the water was not clean, so we had many sicknesses," explains Henrique Campos, the Uma Tolu community chief. "The most common was diarrhea, then tuberculosis."

Although Luc and his family have been working here for just a year, the community is supporting ADRA and the clean water project. As a part of ADRA's agreement with the village, locals are working alongside ADRA contractors to finish the water stations surrounding the new wells.

"Before ADRA came, we had water, but not like we dreamed of," says Henrique. "Now the whole community knows ADRA."

"We would request your prayers for East Timor so we will have a good, solid foundation for the work that is ahead of us," Luc says. "This ministry is a priority for ADRA, and we welcome your support."

ADRA is responding to urgent needs of families in Asia. Learn more here.