From The Last Newsletter
The BMETS has kept close contact with Beba Sequierra and Laura Abrantes, East Timorese women who visited the Mountains last September and are remembered by the many who met them. Frightened by the fighting and lack of safety in the streets, they were confined to their homes at night with their families but, as the streets have become a little safer, active in the community during the days.
The home of Beba's brother was burnt down and another brother has retreated to Baucau for safety. Laura helped to organise the Women's Peace Rally and was still preparing to attend the Emerging Pacific Leaders Dialogue in Brisbane later in June. Both Beba and Laura were also involved in assisting the people still living in refugee camps within Dili by distributing food, water and shelter.
As the crisis unfolded and people fled their homes, it quickly became clear that money was urgently needed to help buy food in the very short term and to re-build services for the tens of thousands whose lives have been again threatened.
Susan Kendall confirmed this when she met with some of the Sisters on June 5th and told of the heartbreaking situation. People in East Timor are feeling ashamed about what has happened she said.
PRADET, the country's only service for survivors of violence and sexual assault had not had its office base affected by direct violence but staff were unable to continue to work. After the crisis PRADET will have to restart. The Sydney based Kendall is a mentor for PRADET, and is remembered for her inspirational talk at the Next Steps to Justice Forum last January organised by BMETS.
PRADET's staff are scattered, traumatised and insecure, having sought safety at refugee camps, some returning to their home districts and this vital service is not expected to be operational again for some time.
Susan said,The PRADET slogan of Start low, go slow is tragically poignant. Started in 2000, the same work of de-briefing, counselling, retraining and setting up basic systems must start all over again.
On another front, Ros Dunlop reported to BMETS that 600 refugees were in the grounds of Arte Moris, the art school in Dili which normally houses 60 young art students, and was rapidly running out of food.
So far the BMETS have sent donations on three fronts: $1,500 to Arte Moris, $1,500 to the Alola Foundation and $3,000 to PRADET.
On the bright side, the building housing the Alola Foundation's Mother and Baby packs is untouched, the materials and sewing machines has not been damaged, and so some more much needed packs have been produced.
Amongst the crisis, babies continue to be born. This is heartening given the Mothers Day campaign BMETS conducted in May which culminated in raising $6,000 for that project.
A massive turnout for the April Book Sale at Leura resulted in $6,000 being raised for the Mother and Baby Packs. This will give a starter pack of nappies, soap, clothing and other essentials to mothers and new born babies.
It is hoped this will be an incentive for mothers to come to the hospital to give birth and begin to reduce the high mortality rates currently experienced.
The May Garage Sale raised $3,000 for PRADET, the service for survivors of sexual assault and violence in East Timor.
Note: The $2,000 raised at the January Kendall/Dowd forum was spent putting the water and power on at the safe house that PRADET is creating for victims of rape and domestic violence, erecting a safety fence and purchasing furniture. The safe house is known as Uma Fatin Hakmatek, which means House of Safe Space. Thank you Blue Mountains community!
Results of the Raffle drawn in May at the Book Sale:
1st prize, Overnight stay and breakfast at the Carrington Hotel (Premier Spa Room) won by L Haberfield.
2nd prize. Painting by local artist Nerida Bunton won by A McKenzie.
3rd prize. A $50 Gift Certificate from Sal-on, won by M Burke.
The fledgling Friendship Schools group held a fabulous event on May 20th at the Wentworth Falls School of Arts.
Musicologist Ros Dunlop, who has worked in East Timor for the past five years assisting the Timorese to preserve and restore their musical heritage, gave an interesting and moving presentation of traditional music, musical instruments as well as photographic and video records of performances.
The Friendship Schools program aims to build relationships between schools in East Timor and schools in the Blue Mountains. Members of the Friendship Schools group are keen to speak with school P&C, to school staff and SRC meetings and Ros Dunlop is keen to give presentations at schools.
For further information please call Suzie on 4782 5133 (W) or 4784 1718 (H) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coming Dates For Our Garage Sales:
August 12 - October 7 December 2
Donations always welcome for the Sales and can be delivered to 246 Leura Mall or contact Suzie on 4782 5133 (W) 4784 1718 (H)
The BM Women's Health Centre, 124 Lurline St, Katoomba stocks East Timor coffee for $9 and Ceylon tea for $3.50. The products are fair-trade and we aim to increase the sale of these fabulous organic products in the Blue Mountains.