Teacher brings Timor tale to life

Rich rewards from sponsorship of child

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 08:07 28/07/2014

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There are probably only a few primary-school aged children who know the legend of how East Timor was formed, but Hokowhitu School teacher Lynne Handcock's classes know it by heart.

Handcock has been sharing the tale of East Timor with her classes at the Palmerston North school over the past few years, since she began sponsoring an East Timor child, 11-year-old Genoveva, through ChildFund.

She was inspired by her husband, Manawatu area commander Inspector Pat Handcock's time in East Timor, where he has been acting as a mentor to help the Timorese develop community policing techniques. Earlier this year, in what was Pat Handcock's last work-based trip to the country, Lynne Handcock joined her husband when his work was finished. Then the pair took some time to look around East Timor, and arrange a visit with Genoveva.

Meeting the little girl and her family was both moving and uncomfortable, but a privilege, she said.

"Genoveva is a very shy, timid girl and the experience seemed to be very overwhelming for her and her parents. We learnt through ChildFund workers that it is rare for sponsored children to meet their sponsors in Timor," she said.

"It was a very moving and humbling experience. It certainly gave us a chance to reflect on our lives and the lives of the people of Timor. In particular Genoveva and children like her."

They also discovered that money going to Genoveva also went to her community in the district of Maliana and into projects to benefit all who lived there.

Since sponsoring Genoveva, Handcock has been sharing the little girl's vastly different daily life with the children in her classes.

The children of room 16 have made their own East Timor crocodiles, based on the story of Labarik Ho Lafaek, or a boy and the crocodile, the creation story behind how East Timor came to be.

The island is said to have been created on the back of a crocodile, in return for a favour once done for it by the boy.

Questions about Genoveva's life reveal the children know she "lives in the bush", in "a little house" built by her mother and father, and eats mostly fish and rice. She doesn't have a flushing toilet or carpet in her home, and she wears the "same thing" every day, because she doesn't have any other clothing.

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- Manawatu Standard

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