8 August 2011
For Martha Gusmao the drive to learn English was sparked by specialising in computer studies and running a computer training school at the Uma Buka Matenek in Fohorem.
Martha is the second of seven children of a local family, all of whom live in Fohorem except Martha’s elder brother who is in Suai, the capital of the Covalima district.
Martha went to secondary school in Suai returning to Fohorem in 2005 just as Sr Helen Nolen arrived to organise the parish school and kindergarten.
‘Sr Helen paid for me to go to Baucau to study English, Portuguese, sewing, cooking, computer studies, and the organ − I played in the Mass in Baucau.’
Martha chose to specialise in computer studies. The course included practical work and supervised training of other trainers.
When she returned to Fohorem, Martha worked with her friends Leopoldina and Albertina to establish a room for computer training, and for teaching sewing which the other two were more interested in.
But Martha realised that she needed more training before she would feel confident to teach. ‘I looked at the computer and realised everything was in English. So I asked Sr Helen if I could do a course in English in Dili. She said, “but your English is good”.’
Nevertheless Martha went to Dili to take a course in Powerpoint, Microsoft Word and Excel for 10 months while perfecting her English in SOLS (Science of Life Systems).
With three donated computers, Martha then began teaching computer studies to junior and senior secondary students as well as adults and single people wishing to further their careers. Some of Martha’s students go on to study at university.
For three years Martha has helped some 60 students each semester.
Martha is also involved in the parish, doing secretarial work for the parish council.
Her concern for her country and the number of deaths from violence and disease translates to a hope that next year’s elections will bring political commitment to improving the health and welfare of the people of Timor-Leste.