Soibada Project Update


It has been a busy couple of weeks for the Pittwater Friends of Soibada. The committee has been officially formed. It comprises enthusiastic volunteers not only from our Parish but from the broader Pittwater Community. This is great because it has become a truly ecumenical venture, involving members of other churches and also many interested people from different community groups.

I was fortunate to meet some visiting East Timorese women who run Non Government Organisations (NGOs) in Dili, Timor Leste. Gizela de Carvahlo is a founder of Feto iha Kbiit Servisu Hamutuk (FKSH). Their motto is “Women have power when working together.” Her family is from Soibada and she is a good friend of father Abel’s. She is an amazing young woman dedicated to bettering the lives of her fellow Timorese. We will be able to work with her organisation to assist the women in Soibada. Gizela’s Aunt, Rosaria Martins da Cruz, who was on a speaking tour in Sydney about nutrition in Timor Leste, also happened to be Sister Lourdes’ (see Bulletin a few weeks back) younger sister.

These women are fine examples of the way we can assist to better the lives of the Timorese. As it has been said before, we need to do more than just give handouts, we need to create sustainable programs and small businesses. It is imperative that we enable the people of Soibada to help themselves. The organizations run by Gizela and Rosario go out into rural Timor Leste to educate and assist the villagers to gain the skills to improve their own future. FKSH focuses on women's issues and works with people isolated from cities. It contributes to their social, economic and cultural well-being.  It delivers programs to women and youth in 4 districts of Timor-Leste. Gizela and her staff run programs for:

Women’s Economic Development, including; Finance, Marketing and Leadership. Organization Skills training in: sewing, traditional food, life skills and gender Issues

Youth Skills Development; leadership, vocational training, gender issues, forum reflection, life Skills

FKSH also researches and markets the handicrafts produced by women program participants.

Rosaria Martins da Cruz is the Director of HIAM Health and has been operating out of Dili National Hospital since Nov 2003. HIAM Health is a Non Government Organisation (NGO) based in Dili East Timor (Timor Leste) working to create a future for the nation in the way of education, rehabilitation and prevention of malnutrition. The vision of HIAM-Health is to empower Timorese people to work together to reduce high infant and maternal mortality rates and to assist in the reduction of poverty and hunger through education and support. The main focus of HIAM-Health’s work since the beginning of 2004 has been the monitoring and supplementary feeding (SFP) of infants/children suffering from malnutrition. This service included Health and Nutrition education for their parent/caregiver, focusing on teaching preventative strategies to combat malnutrition.

Local News

Pittwater Council has given the Friends of Soibada the use of the Avalon Scout Hall every last Friday of the month during the Avalon Growers Market. It is intended to be more than a venue for fundraising but also a community engagement exercise. We had a trial run last week – selling Tais, bric a brac, books and cakes. The dvd about Soibada drew some interest and many children gathered to do Timor themed colouring in. Eventually we will be able to show video updates of progress in the village so that you can really see where the money you raised has been spent. Saturday’s International Festival at Sacred Heart also proved to be a successful awareness raising opportunity for Soibada. Thank you very much to all those volunteers who assisted at both of these events.(More are always welcome!) Overall you raised more than $1200 for Soibada last weekend! It would be comforting to know that each month we could regularly deposit such funds into Father Abel’s and the Sisters’ accounts.


This week I spent a delightful afternoon with Year 3 students at Maria Regina. It was World Mission Month and the focus was Timor Leste. After watching the DVD about Soibada the children earnestly spoke about the ways in which their lives differ from those of the children there. Although their day to day lives differ greatly there are similarities of belief that cross culture. Interesting discussion ensued about happiness, behaviour towards others and being grateful for God’s gifts. Our children have much to learn from those in Soibada.


They talked about reaching out to others and how they could show their friendship for the children in Soibada without actually going over there. The caring manner in which the children in Soibada treat each other was discussed. Interest amongst the Maria Regina children was extremely high and they are all keen to establish regular communication and create a sense of “community”. Some of them began writing letters that day. It is very encouraging to witness this enthusiasm in our young people. They are the future of this friendship project.


The Soibada Knitters/Crafters had their first get together in the Social Justice Office under Maria Regina Church on Wednesday this week. We still need more wool and knitters or crocheters. Any other craft items that could be sold as fundraisers are gladly accepted too. If you would like to come along please get in touch either on 0403226699 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Tamara Sloper Harding


Timor Leste Facts

  • The 2010 Census revealed that although Timor-Leste’s population growth is slower than projected (2.41%) it is still the highest in the Southeast Asia and Pacific region.
  • The total population of Timor-Leste is 1,066,582.
  • 70.4%, of the Timorese people still lives in rural areas.
  • Men: 541,147
  • Women: 525,435
  • Manatuto is 43,246  2010
  • Soibada is one of the least populated sub-districts at 3,051

Tetum Word of the Week

Eskola amigo        School friend