In January a member of the Sisters group, Gail Clifford, visited East Timor with a member of the Blue Mountains City Council Friendship Committee, Maggie Smith. They spent about two weeks in Timor Leste staying in Dili and also visiting the community of Hato Builico with whom we share a strong connection.
In Dili they caught up with Beba Sequeira from the Asia Pacific Support Collective- Timor Leste (APSC-TL) visiting the various partnership projects sponsored by BMETS in Dili. They also visited Mana Kassian in the village of Bugoro where they spoke with the pre-school teachers and got see how the pre-school is progressing.
Since 2005 the Sisters have been working with Mana Kassian to initially complete the Women Veteran's Centre which is now used as a women's meeting place and community centre. We have provided sporting and musical equipment to the young people and assisted with the establishment of vegetable gardens.
Our Sydney Sisters group generously raised enough funds to set up a water tank to ensure a safe and continuous supply of water at the community centre.
Most recently in partnership with Mana Kassian and APSC-TL we have been supporting the establishment of a pre-school in the village which is currently attended by over 60 children. This has been a most inspirational project as the women of the village have set up establishing this project from the ground up.
Gail and Maggie hired a 4 wheel drive for the slow and bumpy ride up to Hato Builico located in the Mountains about 100 kms south of Dili. On this visit Gail and Maggie were fortunate to visit Hato Builico twice.
On one occasion they were accompanied by musicologist Ros Dunlop and young people from the Arte Moris School of Arts. Ros and the young people conducted music lessons at the village schools and later performed in a concert. " It was wonderful to see the interaction between the children and the musicians. As the village is so isolated this is not something they would usually have access to." said Gail.
On the second visit, they also visited the rehabilitated community centre and met with the village people to look at future projects. They also collected letters written by the children of Mulo school for the Korowal school students. "It was lovely to see the quilts made by the Korowal students on display. at the school." said Gail.
One of the aims of the visit was to re-connect with the community and find out from them what activities and projects we can support. The visits will be discussed at planning days for both of the groups in February and from this we will develop action plans for the coming year.
Shortly BMETS Sisters, Anne McKenzie and Fiona Christian will be visiting Timor Leste for a period of 4 months. We look forward to their posts.