Friends of Soibada update and news

Last week I wrote about the Santa Cruz Massacre. It was an event that was instrumental in spurring on the fight for Independence in Timor Leste. Last Friday at Dili’s Motael Church, during a ceremonial mass commemorating the November 12 massacre, the Dili Diocese Bishop, Monsignor Alberto Ricardo da Silva, called on the Timorese Government to make efforts to liberate their people from poverty. He said that it is imperative that the young Timorese should be involved in the process of the country’s development. Da Silva affirmed that the Catholic Church is witness for the massacre by Indonesian troops, and emphasized that the importance of respecting the struggle of the young people who were massacred in November 12, 1991.

Also on the day of the anniversary President Jose Ramos Horta urged the Government of Indonesia to show the graves and skeletons of the young Timorese who were massacred in 1991. Horta acknowledged that Indonesia should be given the opportunity of strengthening its democracy and only then the process of seeking justice for serious crimes committed in Timor Leste should begin. The Timorese Government has never taken the assailants to the courts. President Jose Ramos Horta is meeting with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao to talk with the Indonesian Government about speeding up the process of locating the burial sites. Here is an interview (video) with a Santa Cruz survivor (click the link).


There is a great deal happening in our community to support the people of Soibada. Please assist us with our efforts. Any contribution of time and effort, big or small is gratefully accepted. These activities are not limited to members of Pittwater Catholic Parish. It has become a wonderful ecumenical opportunity and involves members of other

churches and community groups. I communicate with Father Abel and Sister Maryanne by text message in Soibada almost daily. To be able to inform them of these undertakings is really strengthening the friendship between our communities.



Jo Guberina, a parishioner and parent from Maria Regina School, has designed some beautiful Christmas Cards to raise money for the children of Soibada. She adapted the layouts from photographs taken on our last visit to the village. They are not traditional Christmas cards but are a beautiful depiction of scenes of village life. All profits from the cards go straight to the village. They will be on sale after all the Masses. Volunteers are needed please.



It was intended that we would get together fortnightly, however enthusiasm has been so great that we now meet weekly! We have been inundated with donations of wool from throughout the Pittwater Community – actually it has even been more far reaching than that, a group of women at Queenscliff are busy knitting for the children of Soibada. After the Manly Daily article a few weeks back featuring our parishioners I received over 37 phone calls offering help. Yesterday I collected 15 children’s jumpers and many baby hats lovingly knitted by an Avalon woman who is housebound due to hip surgery. What a constructive way she filled in her recovery time! Thanks are due to many of our parishioners and I am thrilled that so many of you are involved. However, a special mentioned must be made to Ann Harvey. Ann has knitted well over a hundred squares for blankets for the children in the village. She is truly amazing and most generous with her skills and time.

With all this wool we need more knitters! So please, even if you can’t be a regular, call in some time to join us, or even take up the needles at home. It has become a fantastic community building experience.


Time: Wednesdays 1230

Place: Outreach Office, under Maria Regina Church

Contact: Tamara 0403226699 or Dannie 99188317



Pittwater Council has given us the use of Avalon Scout Hall in Dunbar Park to hold a monthly “Friends of Soibada Get Together” during the growers market. Intended as more than a fundraising event it is a fabulous community engagement opportunity, it is a time when updates on progress in the village will be available and you have the chance to see where your fundraising makes a difference. It is on again next Friday and we do need really your help with the following activities;

  • Decorate and set up the hall

  • Man the stalls during the day.

  • Sell the Christmas Cards

  • Cakes and Jams – we need people to provide baked goods and jams for the stall.

  • Assist with Timor themed children’s craft activities

  • Run the slide show and distribute leaflets

The Soibada Knitters will be there too – so if you can’t make the Wednesday group come along once a month! Please give me a call on 0403226699 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thank you all for your interest in this project. You are making a tangible difference in the lives of our nearest neighbours!

Tamara Sloper Harding


Tetum Phrase of the week

Ita pronto ona ka lae?   Are you ready?

Hau pronto ona.             I’m ready.