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Address at Songs for Soibada-II

 

In 1999 I began a journey, a journey I wasn’t too keen on taking at the time, but it was something that changed the course of my life and has had much more far reaching consequences than I ever envisaged. It was the path to a friendship that was to develop not just between me and the small village of Soibada in Timor Leste but a friendship that has grown to embrace the entire community of Pittwater at so many different levels. The amount of support we are receiving from this community is absolutely tremendous.

 

I have recently returned from my fourth visit to Timor Leste, my first with the team from the Pittwater Friends of Soibada group. When I served there in 1999 with INTERFET as an Intelligence Officer attached to the ground force, conditions were extremely basic and the environment was high threat. I received the phone call telling me to deploy during our wedding reception – just before the speeches!

 

My exposure to the sufferings of the civilian population following the atrocities during the Timorese struggle for independence has lead to my desire to provide assistance. I became involved with orphanages, schools and local womens groups. I witnessed the results of the years of occupation and violence in Timor Leste and felt the true courage and strength of the Timorese spirit. However, I did not truly understand the full impact upon the women and children until I had children of my own. I also did not fully comprehend the journey of friendship I was embarking on in 1999, nor did I anticipate the love I would grow to feel for the Timorese people.

 

Australia has had ties to Timor Leste for far longer than most people are aware. – In WW2 over 40,000 East Timorese died as a result of assisting Australia. We promised them friendship and protection ……. And we let them down.

 

The Pittwater Community’s commitment to assisting Timor Leste began a couple of years ago at Maria Regina Primary School. With the support of the local churches, community groups and that of Pittwater Council it has since grown to encompass the wider community.

 

Last year we formalized our friendship agreement with Soibada. It has been established in accordance with the Statement of Principles for Local Governments Working in Timor-Leste. Any projects to be implemented in Soibada will be determined by the Soibada community in communication with the Friends of Soibada project.

 

Soibada is very remote, and breathtakingly beautiful, high in the mountains, it was originally built by the Portuguese. It has few resources and was devastated by past occupation by Indonesian and militia groups and subsequent turmoil following Independence. There are no bridges to Soibada, so during the rainy season the town is completely cut off.

 

It is 135km from the capital, Dili. On a good day it takes about four and a half hours to get there by 4 wheel drive on unsurfaced extremely winding roads. This series of interconnected potholes, called a road, is the village’s only link to the outside world.

 

Our initial focus will be on sanitation and education. During the visit we prioritized the tasks that lay ahead and sourced materials. We will start with the school toilets and education programs for the community with the assistance of Timorese run NGOs. We will also commence sending volunteer medical and teaching personnel from Pittwater over to the village to mentor the locals. Eventually we will build a community centre and market place.

 

The people of Soibada have access to resources and tradesmen qualified to restore the old damaged buildings of the school. However, they have no funds to do this. Fundraising will be a good way to begin our contribution. It is a much better use of resources for them to employ local tradesmen and use local products. This way we assist in stimulating the local economy by providing jobs and giving them the means to help themselves. Thus restoring their dignity and giving the people a sense of ownership of the facilities that we fund.

 

The development of the friendship between Pittwater and the village of Soibada is already having very positives implications for both communities. Since hearing of our project several other schools in Sydney are now approaching their local councils with a plan to join in friendship with a village in Timor Leste.

 

I am very privileged to be involved in this project and we have a fantastic enthusiastic team from the Pittwater Community.

This relationship is about far more than raising funds and doing charitable deeds. It is about the growth of lasting friendship and sustainable development. It is about empowering the people of Soibada to resurrect their own village and their lives. The future of Soibada is bright and full of promise. With our help, the village will regain its former capability as a respected place of education.

 

With your support we will change the future for the children of Soibada by helping them to help themselves.

 

  • As Mother Teresa said;

  • Let us not be satisfied with just giving money. Money is not enough, money can be got, but they need your hearts to love them. So, spread your love everywhere you go.


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Soibada – The Project Plan

 

After such successful fundraising in the last couple of weeks it is natural that many will ask the question; “Where does the money go and who decides what it is spent on?” These are important issues and have been given a great deal of consideration. Pittwater Friends of Soibada is Incorporated, has a bank account and all the appropriate position holders on the committee. Very soon we will have tax deductibility status. All decisions are made through the committee with consultation with the community representatives of Soibada. The details outlined below will give you an insight into the project and decision making process.

It is imperative that we cement and maintain our friendship relationship between our community in Pittwater and the people of Soibada by regular visits and communication. However, the ultimate aim of the team’s recent trip to Timor Leste was to ascertain the following:

  • The immediate and long term needs of the community of Soibada

  • Project priority

  • Availability of materials and labour

  • Logistics issues

An additional task was to film village life for education and publicity purposes in Australia.

The team's proposal was developed together with Father Abel Alves Soares and can be divided into three categories. These have been prioritised and approved by the Pittwater Friends of Soibada Committee.

 

This video will give you an idea of life in the village of Soibada and also the project areas for the future. Click the player to start or pause. There is a full screen icon on the bottom towards the right. You will need a recent version of Adobe's Flash Player and you might be asked to download it. You will need a Broadband connection to view the video. However, most people have this.

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1. Construction and physical improvements to existing facilities.dscn1599a

  • Repair/rebuild the toilets in both Soibada Primary and High School

  • Repair Classroom floors/roofs

2. Community development and education

  • Establish a Scholarship Program for senior high school students from Soibada to go to Dili (There is no years 11 and 12 in Soibada)

  • Use of local NGOs for education – Two Dili based organizations were identified as suitable partners for Pittwater Friends of Soibada. (I will provide details of these in a few weeks.)

  • English Teachers – to assist/train the teachers

  • Books – in Tetum and in English

  • Doctor – the clinic is empty and could accommodate volunteers and a medical “mentor” program

  • Blankets and Ponchos

  • Weaving and handicrafts

  • Small business development

  • Concept for building maintenance

3. Major Construction Project

  • Community Centre – within the next few years a village central area will be built comprising of a market place and venue for educational programs and community gatherings.

Recommendations

Several projects will run in parallel. The task is far more complicate than it initially appears. Not only do we need to raise the funds to finance the projects it is essential for the long term success of our endeavours that we also look deeper. We are currently:

  • Researching to ensure that no other volunteer or government agencies are planning to undertake the same tasks.

  • Raising funds, and obtaining quotes, to have the toilets and floors at the school repaired by local tradesmen.

  • Consulting with Government agencies in regard to volunteer doctors and teachers spending set periods of time in the village.

  • Working in conjunction with Timor based NGOs to ascertain budgets and implement training programs in the village.

  • The Pittwater community continues with the Wrap with Love project and we will research the viability of shipping goods (i.e. blankets, books, etc) to Soibada in a 20 ft container.

  • Developing plans for the proposed community centre and fund raising (Buy a Brick, Build a Future – there will be more on this initiative soon!).

  • Investigating the possibility of “hiking” tours and Pilgrimages (and the merchandising that could accompany this).

  • Developing several different types of education and information packs for the Australian community. These will include various versions of film footage from the visit.

  • Enhancing the “Friendship” aspects of the relationship. It is much appreciated by both communities.

Events

There are going to be many fundraising activities in the coming weeks. Please keep a look out for the Friends of Soibada at Avalon Market Day on 19 November. Any assistance on the stall would be most appreciated.

There is going to be a Christmas Shopping Night at Panders and Pepperpots Art Café early in December. An assortment of items will be available will a percentage of sales going to Soibada projects. A small entrance fee of $10 will provide you with a glass of wine, nibbles and live entertainment (Thank you once again to the fabulous Samantha Shaw!) 100% of money raised from Christmas ornaments handmade by Pittwater ladies will go to Soibada. If any of you are inclined donations of more handmade Christmas items would be warmly accepted!

See you there! Thank you once again for getting behind this project with such enthusiasm. You can rest assured that our community is making a valuable, lasting difference for the children of Soibada and that funds are being well spent.

Tamara Sloper Harding

 

You can see from the following photos that bathroom facilities need a major overhaul!

 

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Parishioners support Soibada.

Pittwater Parishioners, Ralph, Len, Sam Papandrea and Andrew Snow, of Pittwater Pharmacy generously donated medical supplies to be used in the clinic in Soibada. A team consisting of teachers from our parish, Jill Gavin, Cathy Penning, a doctor, nurse, architect, photographer and film maker have accompanied Tamara  to Timor Leste this week.

 

In preparation for this trip and as part of the Parish commitment to our sister Parish in Soibada, Anne Harvey and Sue Beynon attended the Inaugural Timor Leste Friendship forum last week. Kirsty Sword Gusmao was the key note speaker and fondly remembered her evening in our Parish at Maria Regina Church that instigated the whole friendship process between Pittwater and Soibada. A full report on the outcomes of the forum will be available when Tamara returns from Timor.

 

Thanks, don’t forget to pray for us on our journey! I am nervous but it is all finally starting to come together.

 

Kind regards,

Tamara

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Education in Soibada

Last month Jill Gavin, Teacher and parishioner at Sacred Heart Mona Vale, returned from her visit to our Sister Parish in Soibada Timor Leste. She was an incredible asset to the team. Some of her impressions are outlined below.

I arrived in Dili on 14th July 2012. The other members of the group,Tamara Harding, Dr Peter Saxon-Williams, Anna Guterres (interpreter and wife of ambassador), Kelly Lanfranci (stills photographer), Cathy Penning (primary school teacher), Emile Jansen (architect), Suzanne Radford (nurse) and David Haythornthwaite (film-maker) arrived next day from Darwin to a situation of curfew. The UN still has a large presence here, but depending on the situation, is slated to leave by the end of the year. East Timorese I spoke to said they are looking forward to peace and stability and being truly independent. Accommodation for us in Soibada was two comfortable houses belonging to the church, one used for the bishop and other dignitaries.

The village consists of 5 sucas (wards). It has at least 9 deserted buildings all in need of significant restoration. All land is owned, plus villagers have gardens up to some hours walk away, where they may grow vegetables and/or palms. One problem posed to me is if the women become engaged in cottage industries, who will be available to work the gardens – this is part of a wider developmental issue. There are coffee plantations nearby, but not efficient, reasons given including: insufficient numbers of workers to work on and secure the crop and less than perfect growing conditions. There are coffee plantations elsewhere in East Timor and the comparative wealth generated from those is changing the construction of those villages.

There are a number of workers in the village: a carpenter, brick-maker, and mechanic. One of the villages within Soibada has just built a spiritual house from thatch and bamboo – a rumah adat, which houses the long-standing animist tradition. (I visited two of these in other villages later). Electricity is currently available from 6pm to midnight, but by December it should be 24 hours as in the neighbouring villages. Many houses have TV, the principal programming coming from Indonesia.

Schools in Soibada include a state primary school, a Catholic secondary school and a senior high school, the last of which is in the process of applying for state recognition. The issues of who owns the land, who maintains the buildings and who supplies funding and resources appear to be complex and difficult. There are other schools nearby and many students go to board in Dili, but all are beyond the river, which can affect transport. The roads are appalling, but there is evidence of the govt attacking this problem. One NGO called “Bridges to Prosperity” is building a footbridge with local labour across the nearby river. The plan is to maintain foot and cycle contact through the wet season. The subject of my particular interest is English teaching. Overwhelmingly there is a strong a desire to learn it, because they see the need for future jobs, engagement with the global community, such as the internet, and tourism/trade. At the moment the teachers attend a 2 week teacher training program which is conducted in Portuguese. This will cement Portuguese as a language of instruction. Tetum is also taught – and again many teachers are not fluent in that language. It is however nationally psychologically and historically important. Students attend Portuguese and English lessons. In Soibada English is not taught until high school. The classes are large; the desks seat too many chairs. The temptation is not to have “communicative” classes, but the silent reading/writing model. A curriculum exists and the text books are fine, but they are unused because of the fear of their being stolen.

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 Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Aitara

It has been an exciting school holidays as I prepare to take a group of Parishioners to Soibada! I received my first ever phone call from Sister Rosario in Soibada orphanage the other night. (The Sisters only recently were given a phone.) I could hear the children’s squeals as she asked when were coming back. It really brought home the true impact of our friendship and the fact that it means so much more than fundraising. Our two Parishes are intrinsically linked not just by a shared faith but also by love.

On Sunday 7 October 2012 several of our (more adventurous) parishioners will embark on the Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Aitara. It is a very special month for our sister Parish of Soibada, in Timor Leste. Soibada is a legendary place. em Timor. PrimeirIt is said that on 16 October many many years ago, the Virgin Mary appeared to several women near the Banyan tree on Aitara hill that overlooks the village. As a result a shrine, a church, a convent, a college and a town were built over 100 years ago. Although the Vision is not officially endorsed by the Catholic Church, its significance to the people of Timor Leste was acknowledged by Pope John Paul II in his message on the occasion of the declaration of Independence.

He said:

 

While I extend a cordial Apostolic Blessing to you all, I invoke on the authorities of the Democratic Republic of East Timor and those who will be working for a prosperous and peaceful, divine assistance and intercession of Mary Immaculate, lovingly raised by you under the title the 'Virgin of Aitara'.


Vaticano, 6 de Maio de 2002. Vatican, May 6, 2002.

 

From the day of the Apparition the site on Aitara Hill has been a place of great religious significance to the Timorese people and the nation. Next to that Banyan tree stands the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aitara. Every year there is a festival to celebrate the vision. Soibada is the destination of the yearly pilgrimage during which hundreds of people from all over Timor Leste to come visit the chapel. This is the first time that our Parishioners have been invited to take part in the celebrations. In fact, this is the first time I have ever attended a Pilgrimage! These brave volunteers are not only my “test pilgrims” but they will be put to work in the village to share their varied skills and knowledge. Hopefully after this I will have a program in place where representatives from Pittwater Parish will be able to attend the Aitara Pilgrimage each year. (You will be pleased to know that by next October there will be toilets and regular electricity in the village.)image007

The devotion of the Timorese people to this site has been likened to that of people towards Fatima. As people come from all over Timor they bring the crosses with them that will then stand all over the country side. A procession with the statue of Our Lady, from the Parish Church of Sacred Heart in the village to the Shrine on the hill begins at 8 am on 16 October. Mass is celebrated there, with the mountains behind the altar in the background.

 

Timor Leste’s past President, Jose Ramos Horta says that Christianity is the reason that Timor Leste has a strong national identity. He is well known as a deeply religious man and sees it as imperative that the Government develops a strong relationship with the church for the country to move forward. He almost died after being shot by a gang of armed rebels. He experienced a spiritual epiphany as the blood seeped from his wounds whilst waiting for the ambulance. He feels that God has given him a second chance at life to assist his country and help his people move towards peace. He says that he had an apparition and heard a voice telling him that it was not his time to die.

In many countries a political leader would be criticised for such a public affirmation of faith. Things are different in Timor Leste, he is admired and it has enhanced his ability to do his job.

 

 

Jose Ramos Horta wimage008as educated in Soibada and makes many visits to this spiritual place. He considers one day that “Our Lady of Aitara” Shrine could become a destination of international peregrination. In order to attract foreign pilgrims much work needs to be done on such amenities such as; roads, electricity, drinking water, sanitation, communication networks, health and education. Thus, the Virgin Mary’s appearance could have a dual benefit for the village. Not only is it a wonderful spiritual place but the lives of the villagers could be enhanced by visitors to the site. Hopefully we can play a part in fulfilling this plan on both counts.

 

 

Please keep our team in your prayers over the next two weeks.

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Soibada Update Nov 2012

 

I have just returned from my 6th visit to Timor Leste. There was a dual purpose for this visit. It was the time of the annual Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Aitara, when thousands flock to Soibada from all over Timor Leste. We had several representatives of our Parish and Diocese participate in the celebrations. I look forward to sharing details of this special spiritual time at a later date. It was an important opportunity to reinforce the friendship agreement between our Parish and the Parish of Soibada, and fulfil the agreement between Pittwater Council and Community. We met with Government Ministers and Suco Chiefs to determine project priorities. Any projects to be implemented in Soibada will be determined by the Soibada community in communication with the Friends of Soibada project. Our meetings about road repair and construction of the bridge even made the Timor Television news! This was very reassuring for the people of Soibada as they could witness our genuine commitment to assist them with sustainable development.

 

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Our volunteers included members of Pittwater Parish and medical and teaching

personnel who established a mentorship program and volunteer scheme. We even had some training programs in haircutting run by Ian Laidlaw of Scally’s in Avalon. Ian gave 8 young people the basic techniques prior to them attending small business training courses that we fund in Dili. Already one young man from the group is successful and charging $2 a hair cut!

The Pittwater Community’s commitment to assisting Timor Leste began a couple of years ago at Maria Regina Primary School. What started in our small Parish school has spread throughout the general community and is testament to the school’s motto of “Making a Difference”. The staff and the children should be acknowledged for their enthusiasm and interest beyond the privileged area of the Northern Beaches. With the support of our Parish, local churches of all denominations, community groups, Pittwater Council and Rotary it has since grown to encompass the wider community.

 

Our project in Soibada is divided into three separate areas:

1. Construction and physical improvements to existing facilities.

2. Community development and education.

Scholarship Program for senior high school in Dili

Use of local NGOs for education

  • Medical

  • Education and Training

3. Major Projects

  • Community Centre

  • Investigation into tourism possibilities

  • Scoping of major projects, including the bridge and road repairs

  • Attendance at the annual Pilgrimage of Our Lady Of Aitara

  • Trade skills

  •  

We are currently funding educations programs for the community with the assistance of Timorese run NGOs. The Soibada Project aims is to utilize NGOs already based in Timor Leste and staffed by Timorese people.

 

Appropriately trained local educators, nutritionists and other medical staff are better placed for liaising with the community of Soibada. Not just geographically, (saving money that would be spent on airfares for Australian volunteers – money put to better use within the village) but also linguistically and culturally.

 

Working under the philosophy of “Give the man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish feed himself for life.”

 

This relationship is about far more than raising funds and doing charitable deeds. It is about the growth of lasting friendship and sustainable development. It is about empowering the people of Soibada to resurrect their own village and their lives. The future of Soibada is bright and full of promise. Our goal is not to make the change, but to facilitate the change so that it comes from within the Soibada community. We must enable the people to help themselves and restore the dignity that has been stolen from them during years of oppression. They need ownership of any project and the impetus for change must be internal.

With your support we will change the future for the children of Soibada and Timor Leste by helping them to help themselves.

Tamara Sloper Harding

 

Please Join us!

The Soibada Knitters who meet each Wednesday at 1230 in the Social Justice Office under Maria Regina Church in Avalon has grown to include people from as far away as Manly. I think the knitters are almost getting as much out of the project as the children warmed by their blankets in Soibada! It is a very social group – We always welcome more people to join us, and of course are constantly seeking donations of wool!

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Soibada – Our Sister Parish

Happy Easter. 2013 is proving to be not only very productive but also spiritually fulfilling for the Social Justice Ministry. My prayers have been answered! (Thank you also for those of you who have kept this Ministry in your prayers – especially the RCIA Group!) Our team of volunteers is growing. Over the next few weeks I will introduce you to them all! We are blessed to have Virpi Tuite working as part of the Social Justice Team now. She has a wealth of experience for us to draw from. Virpi volunteered for many years for Amnesty International, and now wants to focus on grass roots activism in countries close to home. She volunteers for Australian Doctors International, which sends doctors and health managers to Papua New Guinea. She has become very active in enhancing our relationship, and that of our schools, with Soibada. She hopes to share her experiences and lessons learnt from this work with her two young boys. virpi tuiteVirpi Tuite

Our main focus this year remains on our sister parish, Soibada, in Timor Leste. Just to refresh your memories, Pittwater’s sister village of Soibada is very remote, and breathtakingly beautiful, high in the mountains in central Timor. It was originally built by the Portuguese. It has few resources and was devastated by past occupation by Indonesian and militia groups and subsequent turmoil following Independence. There are no bridges to Soibada, so during the rainy season the town is completely cut off. The community have been very proactive yet need our support to increase their health, well-being and capacity. We are helping to provide that support for local projects and to build skills that will contribute to the long term independence and sustainability of the village. This relationship is about far more than raising funds and doing charitable deeds. It is about the growth of lasting friendship and sustainable development. It is about empowering the people of Soibada to resurrect their own village and their lives. Our goal is not to make the change, but to facilitate the change so that it comes from within the Soibada community. We must enable the people to help themselves and restore the dignity that has been stolen from them during years of oppression. They need ownership of any project and the impetus for change must be internal.

The spiritual aspects of the parish partnership is of significance to the Parish of Soibada also. They keep us in their prayers and offer special Masses for the children of Pittwater Parish as they make their Sacraments.

dormitorySoibada Orphanage dormitory

We are currently funding educations programs for the community with the assistance of Timorese run NGOs. The Soibada Project aims is to utilize NGOs already based in Timor Leste and staffed by Timorese people. Appropriately trained local educators, nutritionists and other medical staff are better placed for liaising with the community of Soibada. Not just geographically, (saving money that would be spent on airfares for Australian volunteers – money put to better use within the village) but also linguistically and culturally.

Working under the philosophy of “Give the man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish feed himself for life.”

 

Songs for Soibada III”

Our first big event for the year will be a fundraising concert for Pittwater’s sister village - Songs for Soibada III

Local performers, including our very own Simon Hyland and Sam Shaw, are coming together for an entertainment extravaganza of contemporary and musical theatre on 17 May at Mater Maria College in Warriewood. This is a community generated event organised by Pittwater Friends of Soibada Inc in partnership with Pittwater Catholic Parish, Pittwater Council and Pittwater Rotary. For the first time ever these four organisations have come together to assist with what was once an event run very successfully, but solely, by our Parish. They have been so impresses by the work our Parish has done over the past few years that they have offered to be a part of it. It is a great way of bringing our community together.

084 - samantha shawSamantha Shaw

 

Tickets will be available online and at selected community venues. There will be further details to follow over the coming weeks. More details about the project can be seen at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_1fPJdFpKM

Follow us on FaceBook  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pittwater-Friends-Of-Soibada/162612300466694

 

HOW DO YOU GET INVOLVED IN SOCIAL JUSTICE IN OUR PARISH?

 If you would like further information about the concert, how you could help, or Soibada, please call either myself Tamara on 0403226699 or Virpi on 0414991820.

 

 The Soibada Knitters meet on Wednesdays at 12.30pm in the Social Justice Office under Maria Regina Church? We need more donations of wool and volunteers either to knit or join in the social side of it.

jo

Thank you,

Tamara Sloper Harding

Director of Social Justice

Pittwater Parish

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 Soibada and Social Justice News

Last week you met one of the new members of the Social Justice team, Virpi Tuite, today I would like to introduce Ann Harvey. Ann is an integral member of the Soibada Friendship project and has been involved in many capacities since its inception. She is usually at the 0900 Mass on Sundays at Maria Regina. Not one for the limelight, Ann can be spied behind the scenes at all fundraisers and events. She plays a big role in the coordination and organization of the Soibada Knitters group that meets each Wednesday at 1230 in the Social Justice Office. We are very lucky to have Ann involved in these projects. She is very busy at the moment organizing the raffle for the fundraising concert that will be held on 17 May. If you would like to lend a hand selling tickets or obtaining prizes please let Ann know.

Ann Harvey

Soibada – Home Kitchen Gardens

Money that we raise here in Pittwater is used to fund programs in Soibada run by Timor based Non Government Organisations (NGOs). HIAM Health is one of these with the aim of working to create a future for the nation in the way of education, rehabilitation and prevention of malnutrition. HIAM stands for “Hamutuk Ita Ajuda Malu” which means in English “Together We Help Each Other”. 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.

 

Timor Leste has a population of around 1 million. In some areas the life expectancy for women is only 54 years of age and the infant mortality rate is extremely high. Over 50 percent of children under five are malnourished. There is often confusion about what the term “malnutrition” means. It is far more complex than a measure of the amount of food consumed. It means 'badly nourished' and is characterised by inadequate intake of protein, energy and micronutrients and by frequent infections and diseases. It is measured not by how much food is eaten but by physical measurements of the body - weight to height - and age. Nutrition is the foundation for health and development. Better nutrition means a stronger immune system, less illness and better health for people of all ages.  Without the right nutrition people will die from common infections like measles or diarrhoea. Eradicating hunger, and thus maximizing the value of education, is the key to development. Children who are hungry lack concentration and have little energy to learn. While people are hungry, all other development activities are thwarted.

 

Of the several programs conducted through the HIAM centre, the one we considered would be most beneficial to the families of Soibada, is the Home Garden Project. Working under the philosophy of “Give the man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish feed himself for life.” The Centre provides training in the development of the “Home Kitchen Garden”.  At the moment the women in Soibada do the majority of the work involved in crop production. They often walk for up to two hours to tend their crops. In doing so they leave their many children (the average family consists of 8 children) unsupervised or under the care of older siblings (this includes small infants that could still be breastfed). Their produce also seems to be mostly carbohydrates and do not provide a balanced diet.

timor leste friendship forumAnn and Sue Beynon at Timor Leste friendship forum

 

Nutrition and household gardening are integral components for the reduction of malnutrition in low-income families. The parents/caregivers will receive training to develop their knowledge and skills in producing a garden for all seasons, thus ensuring food security and a possibility of a cash income from surplus produce. The Centre provides training in the development of the “Home Kitchen Garden”.  As nutrition and household gardening are integral components for the reduction of malnutrition in low-income families. Participatory learning is essential and training covers skills in producing a garden for all seasons ensuring food security. A practical learning approach has been found to work best with when dealing with low levels of literacy and education. In this way HIAM is equipping families with the tools to enable them to have some control over their situation. Empowering people to be able to provide good nutrition for household consumption is good for the family and good for the nation as a whole.  The home kitchen garden will overcome malnutrition in all ages, improving maternal health and infant health and improving the chances for successful breast feeding.

 

Gardening Skills to be achieved in the HIAM Program

  • Training in identification of fruits and vegetables with a high nutritional content for balanced diet

  • Training in the importance of a home kitchen garden

  • Training in soil preparation for a home kitchen garden

  • Training in irrigation methods for a home kitchen garden

  • Training in organic pest control methods

  • Training in seed collection and storage

  • Training in productive living fence

  • Training in use of grey water

  • How to integrate animals into home gardening

  • Participants will have the ability to grow vegetable and fruits to supplement family nutritional intake

  • Participants will have knowledge of the nutritional value of fruit and vegetables.

  • Participants will have knowledge to grow produce surplus to their requirements for sale

The village chief in the suco of Tasi Fatin in Soibada has identified 16 candidates to attend the next HIAM training course in Dili. They would then establish community gardens within that very remote part of Soibada and pass on their knowledge to others. Each of these courses costs around $5,000 for the group. This includes tuition, travel, meals and accommodation.

 

Songs for Soibada III”

Our first big event for the year will be a fundraising concert for Pittwater’s sister village - Songs for Soibada III

Local performers, including our very own Simon Hyland and Sam Shaw, are coming together for an entertainment extravaganza of contemporary and musical theatre on 17 May at Mater Maria College in Warriewood. It was confirmed this week that TOM BURLINSON will be back again this year to help raise funds for our sister village! This is a community generated event organised by Pittwater Friends of Soibada Inc in partnership with Pittwater Catholic Parish, Pittwater Council and Pittwater Rotary. For the first time ever these four organisations have come together to assist with what was once an event run very successfully, but solely, by our Parish. They have been so impresses by the work our Parish has done over the past few years that they have offered to be a part of it. It is a great way of bringing our community together.

Tickets will be available online and at selected community venues. There will be further details to follow over the coming weeks. More details about the project can be seen at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_1fPJdFpKM

Follow us on FaceBook  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pittwater-Friends-Of-Soibada/162612300466694

 

HOW DO YOU GET INVOLVED IN SOCIAL JUSTICE IN OUR PARISH?

 

If you would like further information about the concert, how you could help, or Soibada, please call either myself, Tamara on 0403226699 or Virpi on 0414991820.

Thank you,

Tamara Sloper Harding

Director of Social Justice

Pittwater Parish

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 Songs for Soibada III and Timor Independence Day

Monday 20th of May 2013 marked 11 years since Timor Leste gained Independence. Here in Pittwater Parish we kicked off the celebrations of the freedom of our sister parish in Soibada, Timor Leste with a concert Friday night 17th of May. “Songs for Soibada III” was a resounding success. Once again our very own Simon Hyland and Sam Shaw took to the stage alongside Tom Burlinson, Jack Vidgen, Dale Burridge, Danielle Everett, Rohan Seinor, Keiron Conroy, Shane Withington and the Crows Feet Crew.

 soibada3Sam and Simon

This concert differed from those of the past in that the community spirit of this Parish driven initiative resulted in three other organisations joining with us to help Soibada. The Rotary Club of Pittwater, Pittwater Council and Pittwater Friends of Soibada all had a hand in the success of the evening.

 

There were volunteers of all ages from our parish involved; including students from both Mater Maria College and Maria Regina Primary School.

Money raised at the concert will be used to fund education programs for the community with the assistance of Timorese run NGOs. The Soibada Project aims is to utilize NGOs already based in Timor Leste and staffed by Timorese people.

 

Appropriately trained local educators, nutritionists and other medical staff are better placed for liaising with the community of Soibada. Not just geographically, (saving money that would be spent on airfares for Australian volunteers – money put to better use within the village) but also linguistically and culturally.

Working under the philosophy of “Give the man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish feed himself for life.”

Soibada was selected for Pittwater by the Timorese Government. In 2010 a team comprising members of Pittwater Parish and Pittwater Council visited Soibada to formalize our friendship agreement. This project actually was initiated by the children of Maria Regina in Avalon. The staff and the children should be acknowledged for their enthusiasm and interest beyond the privileged area of the Northern Beaches. It has since grown to encompass the wider community. This relationship is about far more than raising funds and doing charitable deeds. It is about the growth of lasting friendship and sustainable development. It is about empowering the people of Soibada to resurrect their own village and their lives. Our goal is not to make the change, but to facilitate the change so that it comes from within the Soibada community. We must enable the people to help themselves and restore the dignity that has been stolen from them during years of oppression.

 

The celebrations within the Parish continued on Monday with the annual “Timor Leste Independence Day” at Maria Regina Primary School. Students from Sacred Heart Primary School, parishioners, the Soibada Knitters and members of the Pittwater Friends of Soibada joined Father Darius and her Excellency Maria Jose de Jesus, the Consul General of Timor Leste, at a special Liturgy and video screening. This was followed by Timor Leste based activities such as traditional dance, music, craft and sport. Other groups wrote letters to the children of Soibada and learnt to knit so that they can contribute to the blankets that we send over. For lunch everyone was served a small bowl of rice as they would be at Soibada school. This was a great cultural learning experience for the children of our Parish.

 

Here are some photos from Maria Regina and Sacred Heart Schools (may take a few seconds for photos to appear):

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Tamara Harding

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