The Encouragement House story began with a chance meeting between Robert Dickson and Deolindo da Costa in the early 2000’s. Their friendship, although beginning in Timor-Leste through an Opportunity International initiative, flourished when Robert and Elizabeth Dickson opened their home to Deolindo so he could complete tertiary studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Deolindo’s dream was to provide a safe place in Maliana, Timor-Leste, where children from his remote village could come to continue their secondary school studies. His experience as a young man had been to live, unsupervised in Maliana, caring for himself, while he completed his high school years. Robert and Elizabeth Dickson, along with John Shadforth and The Encouragement Foundation, began a lifelong friendship with Deolindo that would see this dream come to fruition in 2007.
Now in its tenth year (2018), EH has given educational opportunities to hundreds of students. As well as high school education, EH teaches many aspects of life skills including better health, basic computing, organised sports, music and confidence building to prepare students from small rural villages to enter this fast-changing modern world. Many Timorese students from Encouragement House have continued to tertiary studies leading to exciting job opportunities. Through their continuous involvement with Australian social enterprise Destination Dreaming, EH has been able to host and create ongoing sustainable community partnerships with Australian high schools. Many of the high school students involved have been able not only share their knowledge with EH students, but learn the importance of happiness and community connections above material possessions.
The Australian EH Team through their own personal contacts, enterprising fundraising and dedication to the continued success of Encouragement House will undoubtedly see hundreds more Timorese students on their way to a brighter future for themselves and their families.