Subject: Talk of the town: East Timorese visitors capture local interest

Blue Mountains Gazette (Australia)

Talk of the town: East Timorese visitors capture local interest
By Shane Desiatnik
Wednesday, 28 September 2005

An intensive 10-day speaking tour by two East Timorese women has captured the interest of hundreds of Blue Mountains residents.

The Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters Project (BMETSP) invited Laura Abrantes and Beba Sequierra to share their experiences of living under Indonesian control and what life is like for women since independence was gained in 1999.

The pair has a close relationship with BMETSP members, having hosted six on a research tour of East Timor in July.

They play a vital role implementing community projects for BMETSP and other groups in remote parts of East Timor, including Blue Mountains City Council's friendship area, Hato Builico.

Some projects they are currently involved in partnership with BMETSP are:

-provision of scholorships for ten East Timorese women;

-delivery of sewing machines to a women's co-operative in Hato Builico; and

-interviewing female clandestine veterans for publication of a book of their stories in the Tetum language.

Laura and Beba gave 12 talks in ten days, attending functions at Katoomba High, Korowal School, Wentworth Falls TAFE (talking to youth studies students), council, Katoomba and Springwood neighbourhood centres and private homes.

They also spoke at a tais (traditional textiles) exhibition organised by BMETSP at the Mid Mountains Community Centre in Lawson.

More than 200 people attended this function, purchasing tais made by Mana Matas weaving co-operative - a small women's craft group in East Timor whose members are mostly widows.

Judy Finch from BMETSP said the tais exhibition and the speaking tour raised $5500 in ten days for projects in East Timor.

"Implementing projects to suit local needs is only possible through having dedicated people on the ground in East Timor like Laura and Beba," Judy said.

"It was wonderful to have them over and they generated a lot of interest."

BMETSP was formed a year ago to raise money for projects that support women in East Timor and their communities.

For more information about BMETSP, phone 4759-3599.

[This message was distributed via the east-timor news list. Write]

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