‘Taking Steps ‘ New Women’s Livelihood Project

May 18th, 2011 Annww Posted in 'Taking Steps' Womens Livelihood Project, Friends of Suai News, News from Suai, Suai Visit 2011 Comments Off on ‘Taking Steps ‘ New Women’s Livelihood Project

by Ann Wigglesworth
‘Taking Steps’ is a project to support women’s livelihood development. Covalima Community Centre and Friends of Suai run the project with funding from International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA). Six women’s groups have started small scale livelihood activities in Suai Loro, Matai, Ogues, Salele and Lalawa. Some make Tais, others have started new agricultural activities, food processing or other crafts.
The groups Fitun Naroman and Haboras Goronto both weave Tais. Fitun Naroman have started a small shop in Suai Loro (photo). Since the project started their activities have diversified to include rice production. Haboras Goronto have started chicken rearing.

Fitun Naroman members

Cruz Minarai group are making some lovely crafts including baskets and woven mobiles. Halibur Aikan Local (Halal) group have asked to learn some of these skills from Cruz Minarai. The project will support this exchange of skills.

Cruz Minarai crafts

Haburas Maudemo make banana chips which are sold locally in Salele and grow vegetables are sold in the Suai market (photo).

Selling Haburas Maudemo vegetables in Suai market

The Chefe de Suco of Maudemo is Maria Fatima who is the leader of the Haboras Maudemo group. In the photo at the group vegetable plot she is on the right.

Haborus Maudemo vegetable plot

Haborus Maudemo vegetable plot

The project staff visit the groups regularly to give support, organize skills training, and help resolve problems that the group might face. Another group in Maudemo are Halibur Maudemo making tempe. Alita, the Project Coordinator is in the background.

Halibur Maudemo group making tempe

The Halal group make banana chips which are sealed in plastic packets to keep fresh for sale. They are also planning to start a fish pond.

Halal group make banana chips

Filizarda, the leader of the Halal group, said that her role as the women’s representative on the Suco Council now has more meaning than before because can represent the views of other women and also inform them about the other women’s issues in the Suco. (Suco – small village)

Maria Fatima and Filizarda attended a women’s meeting at the Friends of Suai community centre to discuss coordination with and support of the Gender Focal Point, who is the government’s representative, to ensure gender issues are considered in all government programs.

Taking Steps is an exciting new project with potential to reach out to more women. It is about women forming groups, sharing, learning and building confidence and leadership. FOS is commited to ensuring that funding for this project will enable the project to continue to support women of Covalima.

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Maliana Womens’ Exchange – Pat Jessen

May 10th, 2011 jen Posted in Friends of Suai News, Maliana Women's Exchange, Pat Jessen Visits Comments Off on Maliana Womens’ Exchange – Pat Jessen

This was a very special event.  The Women’s Project of the Covalima Community Centre together with  Alberto dos Barros, Co-ordinator of the Friends of Suai in Suai, took some 30 women from Suai to share information and ideas with other women’s groups in Maliana. (It’s rare for people to travel between districts in the poorer rural areas). Maliana is North of Suai (map) and North-West of Bobonaro in the Bobonaro district. The community centre car and the youth centre car, both donated by Friends of Suai and Rotary, were used to take women from Suai. This was an exciting  learning and sharing event for the participants. 

In Maliana they saw the making of a fuel efficient stove made from local clay, the making of Banana chips, local pesticide production among other things.To visit one of the projects, the road to was a mess but the women decided they wanted to go regardless. They walked 16 kilometres to visit this village.

The slideshow provides a small insight into the process and people involved.

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Suai Market & Covalima – Lots Happening 2011

May 9th, 2011 jen Posted in Friend Visits, Friends of Suai News, Suai Visit 2011 Comments Off on Suai Market & Covalima – Lots Happening 2011

Suai Market at the centre of town with lots happening in 2011

This year I set out with another full agenda and as usual we have too many stories to tell to share with you on Suai Media Space.

In this post I want to tell you what Suai felt like this trip because its ten years since our Friendship began and seven years since I took on the role as coordinator for the Friends of Suai.

I always look first to the market to see how much food there is and the variety of food available. From the little video here you can see what the market was like in 2000. People were living and working under tarpaulins that leaked when it rained and food was in very short supply.

When I first visited Suai in 2005 the situation was better than in 2000 when people were hungry because crops had been burned and homes destroyed in 1999. By 2005 when I arrived there was still malnutrition and hunger and although there was food in the market it was still there in small piles and the variety was limited. This was not all due to the 1999 conflict. Floods followed by drought were affecting Covalima.

In 2011 Covalima and the whole of Timor-Leste was affected by ongoing rain, the same weather pattern affecting northern Australia. The farmers have not had a suitable planting season for maize and rice, however the Saturday markets were plentiful with greens and other vegetables more than I have seen before.   The variety of food has improved and the quantity has improved. Also a greater variety of other merchandise was available including pots, pans, bike inner tubes, fly wire screens, plastic toys indicating their was more ready cash available for some. The number of people trading working and buying in the market had increased.

The Covalima-Dili road (both roads) are in the worst state ever due to the rain, this is affecting the movement of the usual traffic, so there were less people coming to town.

The wind down by the UN toward 2012 is being felt too with numbers of people pulling out of town and not all being replaced. There is a flurry of ‘development’ coming with the electricity power line being outside town and the Portuguese Telecom crew erecting a new communications tower. With the promise of the oil and gas supply base, a new wharf and revamp of the airport with talk of implementation of the Polytechnic plan for the ‘school of petroleum and tourism’ there is a strange anticipation in the air, although public information is slow to reach  the local community from Dili.

Some of the international people were arriving on the UN helicopter or the MAF charter flight but generally it was quiet apart from some construction teams managing to brave the conditions. Government cars are numerous now, motorbikes are everywhere and there are regular buses to areas of  Covalima and neighbouring districts as well as to Dili and West Timor to buy goods.  There is more money in the community due to pensions and payouts by the government so the increased cash flow is showing with new houses going up and people have access to secondhand clothing on sale at the market.

The iconic unfinished church in the grounds of Our Lady of Fatima School is changing shape too. The three-pointed façade has gone and some of the locals are not happy about that.  It is being built with local donations and church money and other funds and will become the main church in the town.

In the slideshow are drawings by Australian War Artist Wendy Sharpe Christmas 1999-2000.  Another is a drawing by  Suai Loro Artist Natalino dos Reis titled ‘Friendship’. You can see more of his art and the art of other Covalima artists here.  The third (Canossa Cow) is a photograph by Livania de Jesus. Cannosa Cow was taken in the Friends of Suai Photography Workshop in 2009. This and other photographs were exhibition in Connections Across the Timor Sea Exhibition held in the St Kilda Town Hall Gallery as part of our ten year friendship celebrations in 2010.

The Suai Church rebuilt in 2010 was too small before it was completed with hundreds of churchgoers in the grounds each Sunday to take communion.  This is very significant for the people of Suai – read our story about it and see the paintings and drawings by Australian War Artists Wendy Sharpe and Rick Amor in here for more.

Another landmark structure on the school grounds was a huge traditional house built with USAID money by local carpenter Felix Correira and the Bunak men from the mountains near Suai. Click on the thumbnail to go to interview with carpenter in 2000.

Last year for some unknown reason this beautiful building collapsed.  Our local filmmaker Jen Hughes filmed it being built in 2000. You can see  interview with Snr. Felix Correira here. (video of building  to come)

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Suai Loro Uma Lulik Ceremony

April 28th, 2011 jen Posted in 2011 Uma Lulik Ceremony Suai Loro, Events, Friends of Suai News, News from Suai, Traditional Dance Comments Off on Suai Loro Uma Lulik Ceremony

Suai Loro is the area of land between the Timor Sea South of East Timor and Suai the largest centre of Covalima. Uma Lulik are the Tetum words for Sacred House. The Sacred House is the architectural home of animist culture in East Timor.
The following video was shot by Pat Jessen Co-ordinator of the Friends of Suai on her recent visit to Suai.
Pat: “The Uma Lulik Ceremony lasted for seven days in April 2011. The community had waited for seven years due to lack of funds. Suai Loro is a matrilineal society with  liurai-feto (female royal heads of community). Note the rich cultural heritage of the dancers and the beautiful ceremonial tais (handwoven textiles)”.

You can see  photographs of the beautiful carpentry and carvings in the newly built Uma Lulik in Fohoren and read about it here in an article written about traditional culture by youth media students in a  digital writing and photography workshop funded by the Friends of Suai in July 2008. See Photographs of Fohoren Uma Lulik. Fohorem is in the mountains several hours drive from Suai over very rough terrain.

Balthasar Kehi, (a member of the Friends of Suai Committee ), tells us that originally Koba Lima did not include Suai because Suai had her own kingdom. It was the centre of the great kingdom of We Hali.
The original name of Suai Loro is Suai Loro We Hali. The Tetun word Loro translates in English as sun. But it is also the most respectful title for a sacred king/queen whose main role, like that of the sun, is to enlighten. In English ‘We’ translates as water and ‘Hali’ as Bunyan tree. Suai Loro is next to the Timor Sea and the Bunyan tree is indigenous to it. The kingdom of We Hali was the biggest kingdom in the undivided island of Timor. The seat of power of this kingdom was in Suai Loro. You can read more about the division of Timor in an article by Balthasar here titled Koba Lima Suai.

More about traditional culture in East Timor…

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