By Brook Sabin
As the defence force prepares to pull out of East Timor, the parents of a soldier killed there have been hailed as heroes.
That's because scores of Timorese locals have been saved from a life of poverty - all in the memory of Private Leonard Manning.
The local chief of a small isolated Timor village thanked New Zealand soldiers for helping to liberate his country.
Half a world away in Waikato, Linda manning knows too well the sacrifice the soldiers made. Her son, Pte Manning, was killed in Timor, back in 2000.
“We really wanted to turn it around to something positive, it was an extremely negative time for us.”
Pte Leonard loved the Timorese people, especially the children, so a charity trust was setup to help educate them.
The trust has changed more than 40 lives since Private Manning's death 12 years ago. And the need here is enormous - more than half the population live under the poverty line.
Two young men sponsored by the trust made a 16 hour return trip to show us their skills.
One is studying electricity to become an electrician, and the other just wanted to thank Pte Manning’s family for their support.
Now the locals want to pay the family back.
“We cannot give something to them, we just remember them in our prayer everyday,” local priest Father Marcellinus Bedin says.
And while the New Zealand Defence Force will pull out of Timor later this week, Pte Manning's legacy will continue to serve.
To donate to the East Timor School Trust, transfer to BNZ account 02-0408-0149554-000.
source: newshub archive