Saturday, September 27, 2008

Next BMETS garage sale - Saturday 25th October9.00am – 3.00pm, 66 Wentworth St, Blackheath. Bric a brac, books & lots of surprises. Come and browse on the day.
Cancelled if wet. Donations of goods can be left at the above address or contact Gail on
4787 6310. If phone is unattended call a Sister on 47574478 or 47841718.

The last sale raised over $3,000!
How does BMETS promote the health and well-being of women and children in East Timor?
BMETS recognises that it has a unique role to play in responding to the needs identified by women in East Timor. BMETS works on projects that meet the immediate needs of Timorese women whilst at the same time enhance capacity for the future. Typically the projects we support require very small amounts of funding. Because we are a small organisation, we can respond to the needs of women in an immediate and direct way. All funds are raised locally and mostly in the Blue Mountains. We could not do what we do without the support of our local community!
♀ We have established very good relationships with women and women’s groups in East Timor. These women act as our advisors and also develop & implement BMETS projects in East Timor. By working with the Timorese women’s organisation, APSC-TL, we employ two community development workers in Dili through. With their support we have established a rural outreach program which employs rural outreach workers who work with women's groups in the rural districts to create opportunities for women’s development and empowerment.
♀ We have established 30 scholarships for women and girls in East Timor.
♀ We have supported three women’s tais weaving cooperatives supporting up to 25 women and their extended families and held two successful tais exhibitions in the Blue Mountains and are planning our third exhibition later this year.
♀ We have contributed over $20,000 towards the Alola Foundation’s Mother and Baby Packs program.
♀ We have worked closely with Kirsty Sword Gusmao supporting her work with communities by providing funding for emergency relief and community welfare.
♀ We’ve assisted with the collection and writing of Women Veteran’s Stories from the Clandestine Movement. The Tetun version of the book was launched by Xanana Gusmao on International Women’s Day this year. We will launch an English version in the Blue Mountains later in the year.
♀ We have resourced and supported the establishment of a women’s sewing cooperative in the village of Hatubuilico.
♀ We have furnished a Safe-Room in Dili Hospital for victims of sexual assault through PRADET.
♀ We have raised funds for the purchase of school books in Tetun from Mary McKillop East Timor for infants and primary school children in Hatubuilico.
♀ We provided funds to complete the building of a Women Veteran’s Centre in a village community. Several Sisters visited the official opening of the building in July 2007. We are in the process of connecting the water tank to the building. The women have also started some agriculture with our help – pig breeding and growing vegies.
♀ We have contributed about $10,000 to emergency relief to assist families in East Timor to pay for basic items such as food and health care.
♀ We sell ‘fair trade’ coffee which is a partnership with 2 Door Café, Lawson. This assists the distribution of Timorese coffee whilst ensuring Timorese farmers get a fair price for their produce.
♀We have worked with Blue Mountains City Council to establish the Blue Mountains Hatubuilico Friendship Committee.
♀ We regularly hold awareness raising and educational events in the Blue Mountains. Kirsty Sword Gusmao recently visited the Blue Mountains as a guest of BMETS. We also hosted Timorese author Naldo Rei at a forum in Katoomba.
♀ We hold regular fund-raising events like book sales, garage sales and tais exhibitions.
♀ We produce an annual calendar which is a major fund-raiser for our group.
♀We have assisted East Timorese women to come to Australia to strengthen friendships, connections and networks and to raise funds and awareness. Beba Sequeira and Laura Abrante have both presented at a number of forums in the Blue Mountains to educate the community about life in East Timor.
♀ Our Sydney Sisters group has held a number of market days and have contributed over $5,000 to BMETS projects.

Kirsty Sword Gusmao Visit a Huge Success!

24 September 2008


Kirsty Sword Gusmão, East Timor’s Ambassador for Education visited Katoomba on September 12th as a guest of the Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters (BMETS).

Australian-born Kirsty, wife of the Timor Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, spoke of developments in East Timor to a packed auditorium.

She emphasised that while the building of bridges and buildings was important work, the need to build people’s skills to teach, to manage and to work in many occupations was essential if the infrastructure was to be effectively used.

BMETS spokesperson Suzie van Opdorp said, “There was no doubt this was a very special occasion. Kirsty Sword Gusmão is a calm and quietly spoken woman. She is very unassuming but truly inspirational. It was obvious that she built a strong connection with the audience as she fielded a wide range of questions from the audience through which everyone became so much the wiser.”

On behalf of the City of Blue Mountains, students from Katoomba Public School presented Kirsty with a beautiful hand-felted wall hanging they had created with Mudgee-based artist, Helen Doble. The children excitedly explained to Kirsty, the various native flora and fauna depicted on the wall hanging.

Principal of Katoomba Public School, Jeannette McCarthy, acknowledged the work of the children and the pleasure it gave the school to participate in creating the gift for East Timor.

Former Deputy Mayor, Clr Chris Van der Kley and former councillor Kerrin O’Grady spoke on behalf of the Blue Mountains City Council Friendship Group with a particular mention of the significant visit last year with the former Mayor, Jim Angel, to sign a formal Friendship Agreement with the district administration of Hatubulico.

The visit also provided the opportunity for BMETS to discuss the most effective ways to assist East Timor with Kirsty, who has been at the forefront of developments there since 1999. In addition to the community development projects supported by BMETS, Kirsty acknowledged the value of personal friendships that have been developing between people in the Blue Mountains and in East Timor.

Kirsty established the Alola Foundation in 2002, to address the needs of women and their families. The Foundation has expanded its reach to include education, maternal and child health, economic empowerment and humanitarian systems.

Last year President Dr Jose Ramos Horta appointed Kirsty the Goodwill Ambassador for Education in recognition of her efforts within the country and internationally to progress education in the fledging nation.

The Friendship Schools Project links primary and secondary schools in Australia with schools in East Timor and two Blue Mountains schools are working on joining this program.

“Kirsty Sword Gusmão left no doubt that her new country has some wise leaders and policy
approaches, it is a country on the move - even if the road ahead might have some big hurdles to jump”, said Suzie van Opdorp.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kirsty's visit a great success

The visit by Kirsty Sword Gusmao was a great success - over 150 people squeezed into The Carrington Lounge to hear her speak of the good things happening in Timor-Leste, the importance and power of global friendship to Timorese people and the value of the work of our Sisters group to her humanitarian work. More to come with hopefully a small video clip of the talk.