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Reader StoryJoao Tapel (Jomat)

November 1, 2014

Joao Tapel (Jomat)

Joao Tapel is from Timor-Leste which just became a country in 2002 when it broke away from Indonesia. In Timor-Leste, many of the people live without electricity. When Joao Tapel (who goes by Jomat) was growing up, he would walk 10 km to school one-way. He had to climb up over a mountain in order to get to school and it would take him 90 minutes to walk to school. When school was over, he again would walk those 10 km back to his village. So, he would walk for 3 hours round-trip in order to go to school. Jomat is one of 10 kids and almost all of his siblings gave up on school because it was too difficult to get there.

Because Timor-Leste has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world, Jomat wanted to only focus on education. For Jomat, most members of his own family are illiterate. One day, when Jomat was in the town of Dili, he learned about solar panels. Later, he was able to bring a solar panel to his village and then, they could have power. Jomat used to read by candle-light and kerosene was used and the kerosene was toxic. With the solar panel, Jomat found he could read and concentrate on learning for much longer than by candle-light.

Now, Jomat is living his dream in America because he is attending school and there is electricity everywhere. Jomat cannot believe he is getting this education. When he first arrived in America, he bought a book because he had never owned a book before and this became his most proud possession. Jomat has only been in America for one month but he is ever grateful. Jomat, you’re an inspiration to all of us!

Published November 2014

Comments (2)


  1. Kristi Middleton says:

    You have such an interesting story! Thanks for being willing to share your story with all of us. Many people will be inspired through your journey. Best of luck to you always! I know you will continue to excel in all areas of life.

  2. I am inspired by Jomat’s story and so pleased that our organization, the Institute of International Education, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, has been able to help make Jomat’s dream of furthering his education in the United States come true. He will surely be a leader in his family, community and nation when he returns to Timor Leste, and will inspire generations to come.

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