Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Education is the key to reducing poverty in East Timor

In countries all over the world education is the key to unlocking the future of communities and developing nations. In neighbouring East Timor, this is even more important when only around half the population have attended school.

Local community workers, Judy Finch and Gail Clifford, are currently undertaking volunteer placements in East Timor working on programs that will improve the lives of women and their communities. Both women are members of the Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters (BMETS) and are in Timor with Australian Volunteers International (AVI).

Gail Clifford based in Maliana, west of Dili, is helping to establish a library and community centre. Gail says “When getting an education in Australia is something many take for granted I am always struck by the enthusiasm of the Timorese for learning. BMETS has provided resources for the centre such as a printer and laminator. This has enabled the volunteers at the Centre to develop their own resources and tools for learning.”

In Dili, Judy Finch has been working with local women’s group, APSC-TL. APSC-TL has a long association with the Blue Mountains with some members visiting as guests of BMETS. Currently Judy is focussing on the scholarships that BMETS funds in East Timor.

In her recent report to BMETS, Judy said “One student, Rosita Vital, made a particular impression on me. She is a women in her late 30s or early 40s who was in the independence movement. She has 20 brothers and sisters and now works for the Women’s Network in an administration role. She cried and cried while she spoke, talking about how important the opportunity of the scholarship was to her. She has done really well, the whole room broke into cheering and clapping.”

Judy finished her report by saying “It seems to me that the only way out of poverty is education. Let’s keep these scholarships going, my friends! We may only be supporting a very small portion of those in need but we are doing something really useful!”

Over the next six months BMETS will be promoting it’s scholarship program for women and girls. “Only about half of women and girls ever get any sort of education. We see education is linked to women building a future for themselves, their families and their communities. We are calling on support from the Blue Mountains community to assist us to continue the scholarships program. From as little as $20 a month you can sponsor a girl or woman to have an education.” said BMETS member, Suzie van Opdorp. For more information call Suzie on 4784 1718 or email