Romeo, 28, holds his daughter Maria, 2. His niece Lourdes is a 19-year-old girl whose dream is to become the Minister of Education. For four years now, she’s been using a solar lantern provided by Mercy Corps to study at night, after completing her daily chores.
When asked if she had any advice or words of encouragement to share with other, younger Timorese girls who are chasing their own dreams, Lourdes said "Being young, a girl, is something to be grateful for. Take the opportunity to chase your dreams — while your parents are still here, while they’re still able to educate you and send you to school. Go to school, and take advantage of any opportunity to focus on your dreams. Don’t think about something else. Most girls in Timor marry young. Please, don’t get married young. Finish your education, find a job, and help your parents, give back to your parents for helping educate you.”