Flores is one of the Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia. In 2010 the population of Flores was 1.8 million people. Flores has an estimated are aof 14,300 square kilometers.

Indonesia Nusa Tenggara Timur Province

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • Rural homes are fragile structures that provide little protection from the often-severe elements. Indonesia family in doorway of home
  • An important part of the Compassion program is teaching children practical skills such as organic farming methods that they can use to better their lives. Indonesia children playing in mud
  • More than 67 million children in Indonesia are under the age of 14. Most have never heard about Jesus or His gift of salvation. Indonesia two girls on bicycle
  • Better-off families in rural areas raise a few pigs or other livestock to improve their income. Indonesia two pigs
  • At their Compassion-assisted child development center, these boys have access to the books and educational supplies that their school lacks. Indonesia boys reading books
  • Rice paddies such as this are common in Nusa Tenggara Timur province. Indonesia green field and trees

Overview: Rural Nusa Tenggara Timur Province

Indonesia’s Nusa Tenggara Timur province comprises about 550 islands, but is dominated by the three main islands of Flores, Sumba and West Timor (the western half of the island of Timor). Nusa Tenggara Timur’s 4.5 million people represent a wide variety of ethnic groups, each of which has its own language used in everyday speech. However, Indonesian is widely understood and spoken throughout the province.

Unlike the rest of Indonesia, where Islam is the dominant religion, Nusa Tenggara Timur’s population is about 90 percent Christian (Catholic and Protestant), with the remaining population Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist.

The island of Timor has long been fought over. The Dutch and Portuguese originally struggled for control of the island, finally dividing it into two sections. In 1949, the western half became part of Indonesia. East Timor continued as a Portuguese colony until 1975, when it was annexed by Indonesia.

After a devastating conflict, East Timor officially became an independent nation in 2002. Today, refugee families from East Timor living in camps in West Timor are some of the island’s most dedicated Christians, active in prayer and Bible study groups.


Culture Corner


Try this easy recipe for fried bananas, popular among Indonesian children.


¾ cup flour
½ tsp. salt
¾ to 1 cup water
1 lime, zested and cut into wedges
4 small ripe bananas
1 cup canola oil for frying
1 tbsp. sugar


In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Add enough water to make a smooth, medium-thick batter. Add lime zest, and mix well. Dip peeled bananas in the batter 2 or 3 times, until well coated. In a deep skillet, heat oil to 375 degrees. Fry bananas 2 at a time, until crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, and place on paper towels to absorb the oil. To serve, arrange bananas on a plate and sprinkle with sugar. Garnish with lime wedges.


Life in Rural Nusa Tenggara Timur Province

Indonesia’s Nusa Tenggara Timur province comprises 566 islands, the three largest being Flores, Sumba and West Timor (the western half of the island of Timor). Compassion’s ministry in this province is in the rural areas of Sumba and West Timor. Here, where adults typically work as subsistence farmers, poverty is widespread. In fact, Nusa Tenggara Timur is one of Indonesia’s most impoverished provinces.

The province’s rural roads are in poor shape, and electricity is rare. Also, about 30 percent of homes have no access to safe water, and two-thirds do not have adequate sanitation.

Unlike the rest of Indonesia, where Islam is the dominant religion, Christianity (primarily Catholicism) is practiced by 90 percent of the province’s people. A large evangelical influence, however, is growing throughout the region.

Children at Home

The homes of poor families living in the rural areas of Nusa Tenggara Timur province are typically made of wood and have metal or thatched roofs. Each family farms the small plot of land adjacent to their home. Most homes do not have the basics of electricity, running water, or adequate sanitation. People must haul water for their daily use from sources that can be far away from their homes.


Community Issues and Concerns indonesia rural community

Nusa Tenggara Timur is one of Indonesia’s poorer, more underdeveloped provinces. The average income for a family ranges from only $40 to $90 per month. Also, the unemployment rate is 30 percent and inflation averages 15 percent.

Most people in the rural areas are subsistence farmers, living primarily on corn and cassava grown on small plots of land. Additional crops of coconuts and bananas are cultivated primarily to sell, and better-off families raise a few pigs or other livestock.

The widespread lack of clean water, sanitation and health facilities is a critical issue in these areas. Malnutrition is also common, affecting more than a third of the province’s children. And the mortality rate among children younger than 5 is one of the country’s highest. Interestingly, however, malnutrition is considered shameful, and few families will admit to lacking sufficient food.

Another concern is the prevalence of child abuse among the province’s rural families. Harmful physical and verbal abuse is considered normal, acceptable discipline.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children in rural Nusa Tenggara Timur province face many daunting challenges. In addition to malnutrition, young children often suffer from disease caused by drinking contaminated water. With limited access to clean water, most rely on unsafe sources, such as untreated springs. Also, schools and medical facilities are poor and undersupplied throughout the province. Families often depend on traditional healers for medical needs, and the literacy rate here lags behind that of the rest of Indonesia.


Schools and Education indonesia rural education

Rarely do children in rural Nusa Tenggara Timur go beyond primary school. The only available secondary schools are in the cities. Poor parents simply cannot afford, nor do they see the need, to pay for transportation and living expenses for children to continue their schooling. Children, conditioned to follow in their parents’ footsteps as subsistence farmers, do not have the opportunity to explore other options for their lives.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

At Compassion-assisted child development centers in Nusa Tenggara Timur province, children receive the help and learning opportunities they need to reach their potential in Christ. Along with nutritious meals for proper physical development, they also receive medical assistance and hygiene training to stay healthy. Tutoring helps to make up for school deficiencies, and most important, they learn about the love of their heavenly Father.


Working Through the Local Church

At Compassion, we believe God’s mandate to serve the world’s poor and oppressed rests on the shoulders of the church. That’s why being “church-based” is an important Compassion distinctive. In other words, Compassion comes alongside local churches, empowering them to carry out God’s mandate to bring real and lasting transformation into the lives of impoverished children. Local churches understand well the challenges of the poor in their communities, as well as the best ways to address those challenges.

For more than 40 years, this unique partnership between Compassion and local Indonesian churches has been releasing children from poverty and providing them the opportunities they need to grow into happy, healthy, responsible Christian adults.

How Compassion Works in Indonesia indonesia rural compassion in indonesia

Compassion’s work in Indonesia began in 1968. Currently, more than 61,000 children participate in 337 child development centers (not including eastern Indonesia).

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide Indonesia’s children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Partnership Facilitators are the “hands” of Compassion, reaching out to local churches, instilling in them the vision, then providing them guidance for operating a successful child development center. Partnership Facilitators represent the best interest of child sponsors to the local churches and, in turn, represent the churches’ needs and challenges to the national Compassion office.

Each church is visited by its Partnership Facilitator once every month. Marcellinus Hendratma, who oversees 13 church partners in rural Medan on the island of Sumatra, spends up to two weeks away from home visiting these churches. But the effort is worthwhile. “What makes my job exciting is that I work with the church to expand its influence as a blessing to many,” says Marcellinus.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the protection of children from malnutrition.
  • Pray for abundant crops for families that depend on subsistence farming.
  • Pray that Compassion center staff can model for parents a loving, biblical method of disciplining children.
  • Pray that children will be provided more opportunities to receive a good education and complete secondary school.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.
  • Pray that Compassion will be able to work with even more churches in the fight against poverty.