I feel very privileged to be a marriage celebrant here on the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland Australia. I am grateful for the opportunity to work and live in a beautiful region, in a lucky country.
I also want to give back to the world for the luck I have had in my life, or pay it forward if you like.
To this end, for every wedding I conduct, a donation is made to a scholarship fund in Timor Leste, a fledgling country bravely endeavouring to make a good life for its peoples. Each time a couple is married by me, someone in East Timor is educated for a month! In this way each couple can not only be happily married, but also feel proud that as a result of their wedding, a young person benefits with education, and the opportunity to contribute to the building of their country.
I do not do this alone.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Timor Leste on a holiday. Yes I was a tourist in a country unspoilt by tourism. A place of natural beauty and raw charm. A country of incredibly resilient people, who smile so readily and welcome so warmly. Why Timor Leste? I had some years ago shared a class at University with an incredible woman. Neither of us knew then of the daring story to come in her life, but I had retained a respect for this classmate.
Yet, years later she welcomed me and hubby to Timor Leste with such warm hugs, and generous spirit, we were almost overwhelmed with emotion. Kirsty had become the first lady of Timor Leste, yet she met us, mere travellers, at the airport and shared her dedicated work with us.
Education for girls
For this project, I have the amazing assistance and support of Kirsty Sword Gusmao, Timor Leste’s Goodwill Ambassador for Education and founding direcctor of Alola Foundation, for women and children. She in turn has assistance from Madre Lita, and many other diligent workers and volunteers.
I am so honoured to be a small part of this project, which helps young women to an education,
something more valuable than money can ever buy.