Italien: Paola Battagliola

The East Timorese have to start from zero. They have to build their freedom into reality. They must take it one step at a time. Within time, progress will come about.

— Paola Battagliola

Sister Paola Battagliola (born 1952) is a dedicated missionary from Italy. She moved to East Timor in 1988 and set up two orphanages and a vocational training school for young girls in remote villages of Los Palos. Ever since, she has helped hundreds of East Timorese children attain better education and shelter in a volatile environment until the 1999 catastrophe. She now resides in Jakarta, as a Superior of a Salesian Sisters' School for East Timorese future young sisters.

When Sister Paola began her work as a missionary, she was assigned as the superior of three sisters. “We first arrived in Bakao city in the eastern part of East Timor, before moving to another remote area.” They immediately set out for a remote mountain village named Venilale, located in the interior of the island. They had nothing but one suitcase each, containing their few belongings. “We worked very hard to adapt to the local culture and norms.” Within ten years, two orphanages, a vocational training school for young women, two boarding facilities for highschool age orphan girls, two clinics, various youth groups, educational and health outreach programs for distant villages, and a center for street children were established. Today, there are a total of nine communities under the Salesian Sisters, both in Jakarta and Dili. “We took care of orphans; children abandoned by families and educated them in our orphanage. We wanted them to feel loved and appreciated. We also guided their spiritual knowledge.” The two orphanages located in Venilale and Laga, in Los Palos district accommodate more than 240 children. The Sisters also opened health clinics near the orphanages to serve poor families. In the near future, the Salesian Sister wishes to open a new orphanage on Sumba Island, East Nusa Tenggara. For the future, Sister Paola feels a huge amount of enthusiasm. “There is always hope along the way. We never give up our efforts. We have to work together. There should be coordination between church, organizations, networks and all people in harmony. We need to find our common ground. I like to dream. My dream is mainly for young people. I dream for them to get on their feet, help them prepare, help them find work or happiness in life. Help them clear their paths. Help them as a member of God’s kingdom.”

Salesian Sisters