Timor Leste: Family enjoys a new home late in life
15 March 2011

Mrs and Mrs Simão stand proudly in front of their new home, which stands next to where the family used to live.
"Now our lives have a new meaning and we are really happy because we feel that there is hope in the world and that gives us the will to live."

Hera, 15 March 2011 – After 67 years, Mr and Mrs Simão said they have a second chance at life. After receiving building supplies for a new home, the husband and wife, along with their daughter began working on not only a new house, but also a new vision for their future.

“Only now do I believe that this (new house) is real, because I never believed that good things would come to my family in my life,” said Jacinta, the Simão’s daughter and only living child. “In all my life I see only what we have now, our poverty; I know that with God everything is possible but my family’s life is poverty. Good luck has always been a stranger to me. I believe this house will change our lives for the better.”

JRS faces many challenges to assist people in Timor Leste. After a decade of conflict with Indonesia, the country was left with no infrastructure to support its people. JRS provides materials for families, who along with neighbours in their villages, build stronger homes and thus, stronger communities.

At 67 years old, Simão Ilmanu from Manatuto District, and his wife Maria Simão from Aileu District, have lived in Hera Village since they were married in 1980. They receive a small income from fishing and farming.

“When I got married I left Manatuto District to come to Hera and here I grew only a small kitchen-garden. I also helped some local people to cut wood to be sold. This was our only way of making a living,” Ilmanu said.

They have lived in the same home since the 1980’s raising their children there. Simão and Maria had two children, Jacinta and Nuno. Nuno died of an untreated disease in 1999.

“Nuno was born in an abnormal physical condition and paralysed by a brain disease,” Maria said.

Nuno could not eat, drink or use the bathroom. His mother helped him all 31 years of his life. They never asked for aid from any NGOs. 

“The poor people do not have much choice. Our world is limited and our daily lives consist of making sure we have our basic needs for survival. So, our hope for the future is stay alive and happy,” Ilmanu said, when asked what has kept him going all these years.

JRS gave the family some construction materials and together with the local community they came together to build the new house. 

“Now our lives have a new meaning and we are really happy because we feel that there is hope in the world and that gives us the will to live,” Ilmanu said. “We thank God because we received this new house. Now our daughter can live in a real house and can feel that there is happiness in this world.”

Jacinta, also born with a mental disorder, will inherit the home one day. Her mother said she hopes to live long enough to make sure her daughter is self-sufficient and can survive when Maria and her husband are gone.

 “I dream that my daughter will improve so she can do things like other girls do. I know it is a hard dream but I believe in God. With God everything is possible,” Maria said.

Mario, JRS’ Timor-Leste field officer