Bondia, the Newsletter of LETS Charity.
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LETS is a non profit group of volunteers in Sydney.  Through our charity and fundraising efforts, we are working hand in hand with the people of Letefoho in East Timor to help build a better future for their community.

Our support is focused on co-operative efforts to rebuild the foundations of a viable, thriving, self-sustaining community.

We hope you enjoy this quarter's newsletter!

Remembering Arnaldo Maia

On New Year’s Day this year, tragedy struck in our twin parish of Letefoho, taking the life of a young father and key figure in efforts to rebuild this developing community.

Arnaldo Maiaseen here with his wife, Carme, and their two young daughters, Bella and Angel, was one of Eddie de Pina’s right-hand men and a crucial staff member of the St Bakhita Centre. He was also Eddie’s best friend.

On 1 January 2015, Arno (as he was affectionately known) died suddenly, while swimming with his family and friends, in Dili. Those from the Catholic Parish of the Lower North Shore (LNSP) who spent time in the Letefoho Parish in 2013 will remember Arno’s warm smile, kind nature and his genuine humility. They will not forget also his expert driving skills in some particularly challenging conditions.

Arno was a dependable, intelligent man who learned quickly. He was a gentle husband and father, sincere friend and above all, a man of deep faith. He was one of eight children, and had had taken on responsibility for the education of his siblings, his wife’s siblings and their cousins. A methodical worker, Arno was known to regularly express his praise and gratitude for the Australians, Americans and other volunteers who had taught him his skills as they worked together.

On his own initiative, Arno was instrumental in bringing clean drinking water to several villages in the Letefoho district. He achieved this by investigating via the internet, studying and then implementing a water purification system which now delivers safe water to the communal village taps.

Arno will be sadly missed by LETS – for his humanity, but also the key roles he took on in our most recent projects. These include – building the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, rebuilding Letefoho High School and pioneering a tourism program in Letefoho.

It was a great privilege to know Arnaldo Maia, a man who served God and others, well before himself.


LETS get back to the drawing board!

LETS is very grateful for the active and enthusiastic involvement of our two Parish schools. A very big 'thank you' goes to St Thomas's School in Willoughby and St Philip Neri School in Northbridge. They are a shining example of learning to help each other!

Both St Thomas and St Phillip Neri schools participated in the LETS card design competition with the theme “Christmas Blessings”. Together, students from the schools produced over 160 diverse and colourful entries.

The winning entries – 'Christmas Blessings' by Joe Lonergan from St Philip Neri Catholic School and 'Merry Christmas' by Gaby Lee from St Thomas's Catholic School – were printed on season's greeting cards. Many other students received awards recognising their talented work.
Our gratitude also goes to the many parents and parishioners who supported this initiative. Because of you, all 1,000 cards printed were sold. All proceeds from the card sales go to improving sanitation and education in Letefoho, Timor Leste.
“It was a mammoth effort by all, with the cards being sold within the schools and churches,” says Ornella Byak who spearheaded the cards fundraising effort for the second year running.
“It was wonderful to see so much Christmas spirit and support from everyone through the Christmas time of giving. Thank you to all students who participated and for the support from both schools and the community!” adds Ornella, who is already hatching plans for this year’s card competition.

eLearning, the way of the future!
Over the past five months a group led by LETS Youth Coordinator, Ornella Byak, has been working on an eLearning pilot program. Their hope is to give the children of Letefoho access to 24/7 education.

“Currently in the piloting and testing stages, this program has limitless possibilities,” Ornella explains, “as education is the key to a better future!"

“We have a range of eLearning modules in production, and we will be testing these on the ground in Letefoho this May”, explains Ornella. “Once the pilot program has been completed and we have a better understanding of children’s abilities, we will be tweaking the current modules. The next step will be to expand on the materials and tailor it for the students needs and preferences”.

LETS gratefully acknowledges the teachers and parishioners who are generously donating their time and talents to make this project possible. If you would like to get involved, please contact Ornella Byak, 

Jingle bells to 'rap up' a new church-bell!

"Raising money has never been so much fun!" says Lisa Lewis, professional musician and Music Minister with the Catholic Parish of the Lower North Shore, Sydney.

Lisa drew on musical talent across the LNSP community and created the ‘JOY’ CD to raise funds to buy a church-bell which will go to our twin parish of Letefoho. The bell is for the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, which is currently under construction in the village of Eraulo. This church is very important to the people of Letefoho as faith is at the centre of their lives and a cornerstone of their hope for the future.
Lisa and her team recorded the music and voices of Northbridge Children's Choir, the parish choirs, the local community, and staff and children from St Philip Neri and St Thomas's schools, not to mention our very own Parish Priest, Fr Rex Curry, to create this beautiful Christmas tribute.

With a fundraising target of $1,800, the children and the adult singers absolutely smashed it! The CD was such a hit that a second production run was needed to cope with demand. Priced at $15 each, the ‘JOY’ CDs raised close to $5000. The additional funds, over and above the cost of the bell, will be used for further aid work in Letefoho.

“LETS would especially like to thank Lisa and John Lewis, the children from both St Thomas and St Phillip Neri Choirs, Dianna Cripps, Robin Jordan, Fr Rex Curry, Jim Hayden, St Leonard’s Youth Band, Anne Maree Higgins, Michael Goorevich, Kristy Komadina, Ensemble Vinifera, The Bellringers of St Leonards, Thomas Perrins, and not forgetting the many, many other contributors,” said LETS Chairperson, Georgina Loughnan.

“The bell purchased from these funds is currently in shipment!” Georgina added JOYfully.




LETS is working alongside tour operator Harvest Inroads and staff at the St Bakhita Centre to support the establishment a viable tourism industry in Letefoho through specially organised immersion tours. 

The inaugural trip departing on 11 May 2015 is eagerly anticipated by many in the Letefoho community. The group will spend a day in Dili before travelling to the scenic mountainous region of Letefoho and surrounding areas where they will be immersed in the culture and many aspects of day-to-day life, experience the grace and generosity of the East Timorese people and travel to rarely visited villages and unique places of interest.

Travel to Letefoho is a wonderful way to show solidarity and strengthen ties with our twin parish whilst supporting some of the world’s most needy people.

 “You will be inspired by the opportunity to see, feel and act in a new way.”

If you are interested in travelling to Timor-Leste or would like to know more, please contact Paul Arblaster ( or 0411 255 382).

Copyright © 2015 Lets, All rights reserved.

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