The Mansfield Friends of Venilale, FoV, have been working hard to organise a special event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the relationship. It will be delightful to catch up with so many of the people who have visited over the past ten years. This year has seen many groups visiting—Michelle Harmer, Ann Eldred and friends, a group of students from Mansfield Secondary accompanied by teachers Julie Aldous and Mauz, first time visitors Andrew and Helen Crockett and regulars David and Anne Foster. The Partnership Programme commenced with letters of introduction and small parcels of educational materials and our link with Venilale has been cemented. FoM feel confident that with their broadened positions of responsibility they can work together without the need for AVI assistance.
The Ridge Line Walk
Wild Timor Coffee is a coffee
importing company founded
by four Australian Peacekeepers
after returning from
service in East Timor. FOV
supports ‘Wild Timor’ because
it is a new business
and they pay their farmers
even better than fair trade
Visitors to Venilale in May
Ann Eldred accompanied by her granddaughter, Katy, her friend Katy Brumley and her daughter, Zarah, worked tirelessly before their visit to raise $5,000 for areas of special needs like the orphan-age, Salesian Medical Clinic and schools. As well as buying school supplies in Dili they managed to carry an enormous amount of really valuable goods like 400 pairs of knickers, 200 magnifying reading glasses, Wegs pegs, medical supplies donated by Peter Cullen of Mansfield Veterinary Clinic and 50 Days for Girls packs supplied by Noreen and Tony Carr.
“Our two teenagers spoke with the students – we were very proud of the way the girls inter-acted,” said Ann. At the orphanage the four Mans-field representatives taught the girls how to make bracelets with the kits they had taken. This was Ann’s third visit to Timor Leste and she again saw many interesting things happening. “The people are generous, warm and affectionate. You re-spond to that – you do a lot of laughing.”
The girls’ reaction to their visit amazed their families. They were astounded by how happy yet poor the Timorese people are and they returned with far more respect for all that they are lucky enough to be provided with in Australia.
Mansfield Secondary College Visits in July
During the school holidays, teachers Julie Aldous and Mauz
Prendergast travelled with four students to East Timor to visit Venilale: Darcy Croxford-Demasi and Chloe Morrow – Year 10 – and Sophie Monichino and Annabelle Fox – Year 7.
“We had a heart-warming experience representing a number of Mansfield schools and churches as we took letters of introduction for the formation of new partnerships,“ said Julie. The College has had a friendship partner, Bercoli Junior High School, since 2003 when Kirsty Sword Gusmao first began these partnerships but this one level of support did not stretch to the many other schools in the Venilale district. Over recent months, schools and churches in Mans-field have agreed to support these other schools in one of the poorest nations in the world. The students were a credit to Mansfield as they delivered messages and gifts, communi-cating with East Timorese students through a few words of Indonesian,Tetum and many smiles and gestures.
With bulging packs containing items for the Venilale Medical Clinic and Rotary pens for the schools, the girls were surprised that, when flying from Darwin, that they could be in such a culturally different country in the same time it takes to fly from Melbourne to Hobart. They off-loaded bundles into the hired troopie, bought library books in Tetum and a drum kit for the Venilale community before exploring Dili, including the markets, the Santa Cruz Cemetery, the huge Cristo Rei statue and the Timor-Leste Truth Commission exhibition, Chega!
With good humour they managed the 4-hour drive to Venilale, guitars and drum kit balanced precariously around books, bags and pens. A feature of the trip was the joyful welcomes – songs, dances and processions – that were part of our reception at each school in the District. We were hum-bled by the honour shown to us and recognised that this was really for the Mansfield community whom we represented.
Another highlight was to see Mauz teaching drumming to lo-cal students at the Venilale Information Centre. Chloe, Darcy, Annabelle and Sophie were a credit to their families and our community. They strongly recommend to others, the opportu-nity to be involved in the next school trip in 2017.
First Visit from Andrew and Helen Crockett
Landing in Dili after a very pleasant flight we found ourselves in a country very different to our own – a third world country on our doorstep. The hotel provided a welcome hot shower and flushing toilets; facilities we would soon learn to value. Our trip to Timor-Leste was in two parts: firstly we were with a school group with the
purpose of staying in our sister village, Venilale, and making contact with all the other schools in this sub district as well as representing ‘Friends of Venilale’ and meeting many members of the community.
Leaving Dili we soon saw the countryside – pigs, dogs, chooks and goats seemed to roam everywhere. We couldn’t get over the friendly welcome that we received throughout the trip with men and women waving and children calling out greetings. We all felt like celebrities. When we reached Venilale we were met by town officials, received neck scarves, welcomed with songs, official speeches and children performing traditional dances. It was truly wonderful. Afternoon tea was a selection of interesting local fare and the traditional strong cup of coffee while the four girls pulled chairs in a circle with a number of local teenagers and proceeded to get on fabulously without much language.
Bercoli Junior High put on a really special reception marking the 10th anniversary of the school’s connection with Mans-field. The MC was Senyor Pedro de Sousa who stayed in Mans-field for three months in 2005. After being personally presented with a tais, the prefects recited poems and then we were
paraded through an avenue of honour led by a drum band, a group of marchers and traditional dancers. The pride of the students in their culture and skills brought tears to our eyes.
The second stage of our trip saw us drive with David and Anne Foster and our guide, Boss, to the eastern-most tip of Timor-Leste to Jaco Island. The last 12 kilometres into the Tutuala Resort was four wheel drive territory only but snorkelling on the reef of this glorious island was worth it. The next part of our travels was a four day tour with Timor Adventures to travel across the island to Betano Beach on the south coast, famous as the disembarkation point for the Australian Sparrow Force during World War 2. Timor-Leste is mountainous and we climbed Mt Ramelau, its highest peak at 2963 metres, leaving at three in the morning and arriving in time for the beautiful sunrise. Huge roadworks are in evidence throughout the island and the
Chinese engineers are doing a great job. This massive investment in infrastructure will pave the way for better transport and communi-cation across the nation. Timor-Leste impressions – very poor, quite basic facilities but a feeling of pride amongst a very friendly and welcoming people. One can only admire the Timorese spirit and hope that the international commu-nity continues to help Timor-Leste in the future.
And Finally the Fosters
Venilale was kept busy with the national census and immunisation programs while David and Anne Foster visited recently. Following their travels with the Mansfield Secondary College group and a week’s tour of the beautiful countryside with Andrew and Helen Crockett, they set to work back in Venilale. They volunteered teaching English several times at Bercoli Junior High School, the sister school of Mansfield
Secondary College. Year 8 and 9 lessons ran from 8 am until 1 pm. Because there weren’t enough class-rooms, Year 7 students took their turn in the afternoon. They also taught at Uai Bua Junior High School and the senior high school.
Friends of Venilale projects occupied their time at the Community Internet Centre, based in the com-manding old police station. The Centre is in itself a project of Friends of Venilale whose partner organisation Friends of Mansfield has an office there. It also functions as a tourist information centre and crafts display and sales outlet. Its wifi internet is an amazing asset in a country where communication has been so difficult. A significant plan for the centre is to redevelop some of its rooms into a guest house. Presently there is no readily available accommodation in the small town. The development will involve connecting a water supply, refurbishing the kitchen, bathroom and toilet, as well as creating a dormitory. Much needed local employ-ment will be provided through reception, cooking, cleaning and maintenance activities. With the assistance of Mansfield Apex, Friends of Venilale already employs four local people, a manager, education officer who oversees the scholarship program, tourist guide and translator.
10th Anniversary of our Friendship Relationship
Where– Delatite Hotel Function Room, Mansfield
Meal—6.00 pm set menu
Format—7.30 pm activities begin
Abel Guterres—Timor Leste Ambassador to Australia
Rae Kingsbury—Timor Leste Honorary Consul for Victoria
Damien Kingsbury—Asian affairs media commentator
Derarca O’Mahony— National Convenor, Aust Timor-Leste Friendship Network
Sarah Angus— Former AVI Volunteer in Venilale
Heather Matthew—First President of FoV
Gil Santos and the East Timor Students’ Association band
Local Vocals Mansfield
In July Joni prepared a wonderful ppt presentation for the meeting of the Baucau Friendship Groups in Baucau. It was primarily an information ex-change mirroring the Baucau Friend-ship Forums held in Melbourne. He showed the achievements and pro-gress of our relationship and it was very well received. Senyor Julio, Sen-yor Pedro, Ernesto and Mana Teresa also attended and found this chance to share as valuable as we do.
Timor Commitment—Out and About with Harmie
Michelle Harmer (centre top) par-ticipated in The East Timor Hearts Fund Fun Run. She walked 5 kilo-metres and raised $800 in one week. Most of the participants were Timorese. East Timor Hearts Fund is dedicated to providing life-saving heart surgery in Australia for young people from Timor-Leste.
Dr Dan Murphy is the founder and Medical Director of the Bairo Pite Clinic in Dili. This is an NGO (non government organisa-tion). It provides free health care and train-ing at their hospital in Dili. This is vital in a country where infant mortality is 16 times higher than in a country like Australia, 1 in 3 children have stunted growth because of malnutrition, TB is a huge problem and those with cancer can only be given pain relief.
Marlina B.Ximenes – pictured with her 12 year old sister. She is in Year 11 at Luga Oli Senior High – new 2015. She is 17 and was a delight to meet. Her favourite subjects are Maths, English, Portuguese and Biol-ogy and she wants to be a doctor.
3 students at Dili University –
Amandina do Carmo Belo (on left with denim jacket) is in her third year of a 5 year course studying Education in the English Department. She is enjoying her course. Re-markably we discovered that she is featured in the tourist brochure photo.
Octaviana Rosa Sarmento, centre, is also in her third year studying Education in the English Department. She has 3 brothers and 4 sisters and lives with a cousin in Dili while studying. She dreams of teaching at the Senior Secon-dary or University level.
Veronica da Silva (right) attended CTID for one year, to study computers and music because her parents could not afford to send her to University. Now she is also at Dili University in her first year of an Education Degree also specialising in English. She wants to be a secondary teacher.
Eustaquius S. B. F. Guterres, nicknamed Eko, is pictured with his mother Mana Teresa at the Commu-nity Centre. He is a continuing scholarship holder from 2013 and is in his third year of a 4 year Commu-nity Development course at the University of Timor Leste. He is the youngest of 4 children. His favourite subject is field work because he learns what other communities are doing. The scholarship pays his fees and also covers the cost of books and photo-copying. His ambition is to become a tour guide and work with the Sub District administration to empower the community.
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