Community Centre: The Friends of Suai in Suai is fondly called the “CC” in Suai. In 2000 Port Phillip residents contributed $A80,000 towards the rehabilitation of a large building to house the Friends of Suai. It became known as the ‘Community Centre’. An ex Governor’s residence on a hill overlooking the town, the building became a contested site. In 2008 a new building embedded in the community was renovated and became the new ‘CC’. The ‘CC’ is where the Friends of Suai staff are, it is currently home to ‘Radio Taroman’. It is also the site of an IT Project in partnership with InfoTimor (IT) InfoXchange, Internet Cafe and English training since the installation of 21 computers and connection to broadband. (See Broadband Arrives in Suai ). The CC’s viability has to a large extent been made possible by Solar Power provided by the Friends of Suai in 2007 because access to local power is still very inconsistent.
The Media Project: has been a major project of the Friends of Suai in Suai. The Media Project was implemented in partnership with the Cova Lima Youth Centre under the management of former student leader Ergilio Vicente. The photo shows Lin – the first student to take up the video camera to shoot make her first video in the first workshop held for YoMaTre – Youth Media Training in February, 2006. Workshops in 2008 resulted in these stories and videos.
Education: Recent Projects – On Monday 31st August, exactly 10 years after the historic referendum for Independence, five Port Phillip residents departed for Suai to provide English lessons to local young people at the request of the Friends of Suai Co-ordinator in Suai Simao Barretto. Cost $15,000 plus Teachers own contributions. Photographs have also recently been sent of the inauguration of a new public school library housed in a building re-habilitated and furnished with the help of $A40,000 raised in Port Phillip in 2008.
Permaculture Education: Community Partnerships are what it’s all about and it was a match made in heaven when popular community group VEGOUT offered $A2,000 for a project and shortly afterwards a local primary school requested money to provide a permaculture training garden for the school.
Two other successful community partnerships one with InfoXchange and the other with have seen IT skills and solar power making an important contribution to the development of skills and livelihoods and the smooth running of computers in Suai.
Co-ordinator Reports: Friends of Suai Co-ordinator in Port Phillip, Pat Jessen visits Suai annually to meet and follow through projects. Short reports documented on her return are provided here. In the photograph we see Simao Barretto, Co-ordinator in Suai, Pat Jessen and Alberto Barros Finance Manager.
Visitors from Suai: Port Phillip is seeing more frequent visits from friends and colleagues in Suai as well as politicans and officials from Suai and Dili. Visits began with Xanana requesting a truck in early 2000. Most recently Suai Loro artist Natalino dos reis Pires and the Suai Sub District Administrator Francisco d’Jesus Alvares have visited. Natalino, pictured left, a senior artist at Arte Moris had many works in the Bundoora Exhibition. While he was here he met with Port Phillip artist Elizabeth Milsom whose father George Milsom served in Timor in WW2. The Friends of Suai have begun art classes in Suai with the help of local artist Sergio da Costa and Natalino.
Women and Development: The handwoven cloth called the tais is at the centre of Timorese culture and in 2008 the Friends of Suai began supporting women weavers and traditional culture by holding an Exhibition and Forum at the St Kilda Town Hall. The exhibition is one of a series being developed over time to promote it and build knowledge about it in Australia and internationally through writing about the tais and Forums. Tais from Covalima were sold and since this time the Friends of Suai carry a collection of tais for sale, bought in Suai. You can buy by contacting Pat Jessen. Friends of Suai are currently working in partnership with IWDA in a womens’ literacy program.