What Your Gift Will Do
Your gift will support education and shelter for children living in rural Timor Leste.
The mission of Topu Honis Shelter Home is “To provide a home for those who don’t have one.” The Shelter Home is a safe haven for orphans, children from extremely poor homes, disabled adults, and women fleeing unwanted marriages or abuse.
“Topu Honis” means “guide to life, leading by the hand” in the local Metonese language.
Children in Topu Honis Shelter Home are given food, clothing, education, shelter, structure, and most importantly, a loving home. They are also equipped with skills and resources to choose the direction of their lives when they leave the Shelter Home. Children learn agriculture, animal husbandry, cooking, and many other life skills alongside their academic education in local schools.
Additionally, staff members who are widowed or fleeing abuse or have disabilities receive shelter, food, and clothing.
Topu Honis Shelter Home primarily uses donations for the everyday operation of the organization. Funds are used to purchase basic necessities for the members, pay school fees, and pay the salaries of the staff "mothers."
Topu Honis Shelter Home provides a loving home for 120 children and about 20 adults. Proper health and nutrition, educational opportunities, and a family-like environment help residents thrive at the shelter and in the world beyond Topu Honis.
Funds channelled through One World support Topu Honis Shelter Home to provide:
Shelter: Many of the children and staff members at Topu Honis are there because they have fled unsafe home situations. Children from abusive parents have been rescued and brought to the home. Women who need safe shelter away from abusive husbands or parents can become Topu Honis staff. And adults with intellectual disabilities or mental illness who are not accepted at home are welcome as members of Topu Honis.
Health and Nutrition: Topu Honis members eat three meals a day. All vegetables are grown in their on-site gardens and livestock is purchased from the local community. The children take vitamins and have access to medicine. The organization provides pharmaceuticals for the local community (free of charge) and formula for babies when mothers die or cannot breast feed. Food is also often provided for struggling families when needed.
Education: All children and teens at Topu Honis attend the local schools. Upon high school graduation, all efforts are made to assist members to attend university. Since 2002, Topu Honis has worked to secure college sponsorships for its brightest high school graduates. In 2014, 21 members were attending tertiary education. Children also receive informal education from the staff, Fr. Richard, and each other. They learn agriculture, animal husbandry, cooking, and many other life skills.
Employment: The all-female staff gains critical resources from their employment. In a society which lacks a strong public social safety net (meaning there are few government programs or charitable organizations that can meet the needs of the poor and vulnerable), widowed and battered women often have few choices. Staff members at Topu Honis have shelter, food, clothing, a sense of purpose, and a wage.
Cultural preservation: Topu Honis honors local culture and tradition by promoting indigenous music and the traditional belief system of “adat” (which is practiced in conjunction with Catholicism). The adat and other traditional practices are cornerstone elements of Topu Honis members’ lives. The children learn traditional songs, dances, and folklore of the Atoni people, while simultaneously helping them adapt to a changing modern society. Topu Honis kids have access to television, movies, computers, and phones but are still educated in their traditional culture.
Father Richard Daschbach, SVD, is Founder and Director of Topu Honis Shelter Home in Oecusse, Timor-Leste, where he has been working with local communities for 48 years. “In 1966, when I first arrived in Timor, the local grade school was near my residence and I saw a schoolboy who was alarmingly malnourished. I inquired and was told his name was Kusi, his father was in jail for murder, and his mother couldn’t manage to keep her kids fed. I told Kusi to stop off at the kitchen each after school was out for a good meal. He did!
A short while later, I returned home from a four day visitation in the hills, and found Kusi talking with the cook in the kitchen. I inquired and was told: “He’s staying.” A short while later, I returned from another visitation and found Kusi playing with a friend around the kitchen. I mentioned it to the cook, who replied matter-of-factly: “That’s Bene, father, and he says he’s also staying.” When two weeks later I found a third, the tone in the cook’s voice as he informed me was “What did you expect?” And that’s how Topu Honis started. The venture was self-actuating, building up slowly over the years, very informal, as a growing family. In 1993, when we were up to 60 children, we were urged to become a full-fledged entity under the auspices of a recognized NGO. The Kutet villagers responded by forming an NGO, consisting of people who had some schooling and some expertise in NGO matters."
The Champions for Topu Honis are Cate Johnson and Jean Olson