Posted Tuesday December 01, 2015 by Gemmie Caranay

 

This is my 4th report as FPET President and I am still amazed at the difference that a small band of dedicated people have made and continue to make to the people of Timor Leste. I admit that at times I get ‘bogged down’ in small issues and lose sight of the ‘big picture’. But with your enthusiasm, welcome advice and commitment, I quickly realise that the role FPET has played, and continues to play, in the development of the people of Timor Leste is an essential element in that nation’s growth. For this, I thank you.

Over the last 14 years FPET has provided in excess of $1.3 million in assistance in many guises – volunteer support, training allowances, medical equipment, building materials, teacher training, educational scholarships, and more. As always, the single goal of FPET has been to build the capacity and ability of the people of Timor Leste so that they can take control of their own lives.

Whilst I doubt that the Timor Leste people  will ever have lives that parallel Western society, our mission to help these people to have the best possible  food, shelter, education and medical treatment continues to be as pertinent as it was 14 years ago. It was then that a need was recognised, and a plan was hatched to do something about that need.

Today that need to help the people of Timor Leste is still there; albeit the needs have changed over the last 14 years- from humanitarian and emergency aid to educational, personal and development aid. Today Timor Leste has many problems including

  • 50% of the population are under 15 years of age,
  • a high unemployment rate of 11% (official) i.e.133,100 out of population of 1.21 million
  • 38% of the total population living on less than US$1.25 per day, and
  • a major reliance on income from rapidly reducing oil reserves.

These facts suggest that various forms of assistance will be needed for many years to come.

2015 was initially a consolidation period for FPET’s programs in Atabae and the opportunity to look at other ventures / projects that FPET may have be able to assist with in areas outside Atabae. Alas, the best laid plans……..

Our PALMs supported volunteer Heather Henderson completed her 2 year term in March 2015 and a capable and well qualified replacement, Dianne Woo, was recruited by PALMs and put in place in April 2015. Heather left with fond farewells and wishes but unfortunately Dianne’s circumstances changed and in mid-May she had returned to Australia for family reasons.  This left FPET without a visible presence in Atabae.

Fortunately the Education Team of Maria, Jhon, Alfon and Abel coped with the English education program and continued to administer several other programs supported by FPET. For this I wish to record my thanks to Maria, Jhon, Alfon and Abel.  Results for 111 students have been received and the students and their teachers are to be congratulated on the results achieved. The English education program continues to be a vital part of FPET’s mission in Atabae.

PALMs are actively trying to recruit a new volunteer but have not been successful to date. Currently 2 volunteers in Dili, Philip and Samantha, visit Atabae on a semi-regular basis (1 day every 2 weeks) to mentor the Education Team. For this I wish to record FPET’s thanks to Phil and Sam and PALMs for their support.

2015 also saw the end of FPET owning and maintaining vehicles in Timor Leste – at least for the time being. The ex-Australian Army Troop Carrier was finally retired and sold for US$5,000 less expenses. Sadly it had reached the end of its economic life. It was a true workhorse but I doubt its rough ride and the very expensive repair costs will be missed.

So in the last 6 months there have not been any new initiatives – merely trying to maintain what has already been achieved.  I recommend that one priority for the next few months is to review current activities and ensure that the outcomes sought by the people of Timor Leste, and more particular Atabae, are still being achieved.

Mid 2015 saw our wonderful Treasurer, Eric Muir, travel with FPET long-time supporter John Hull to Timor Leste to review programs and ensure that funds were being spent correctly and all receipts were being collected. Thank you to Eric and John. The trip does present some physical challenges which I understand they both coped with without too much difficulty. Their visit reinforced the positive outcomes that are being achieved.

The support provided to Eric and John by the Education Team and other members of the Atabae community was once again very much appreciated. The trip also highlighted the need for regular visits to Timor Leste by FPET members and supporters.

The project by OJC and FPA to construct and operate a Training Centre in Atabae does not appear to have progressed very far but I understand that discussions on acquiring the land are underway. The issue of food security is also high on FPA’s agenda and FPET will continue to assist this project when possible.

2015 also saw FPET’s founder and driving force, Deacon Gary Stone, build a new house down the ‘south side’ and refocus his ministry in the much needed area of Veteran Support. I wish Gary and his family all the best with his new ministry and I know he will continue to advocate for FPET and the people of Timor Leste.

Last year much was spoken about membership of FPET and the need to undertake a membership drive. This need still exists and is, in my opinion, essential for the next stage of FPET’s life. The people of Timor Leste still need our help and we, the members of FPET can assist.

Hopefully education in all its many forms will continue to be the foundation upon which FPET provides support to the people of Timor Leste. Education is a gift that once given cannot be taken back. It is a gift for life.

I t would be remiss of me not to thank my two fellow executives, Eric Muir our wonderful Treasurer and John O’Hara our fantastic Secretary. Together they have made the role of President so much easier and I value their friendship and commitment. Thank you both.

Also on behalf of the people that FPET exists to help, thank you to all of you and our supporters. Without your support, both financially and in other ways, FPET could not do what it does and the future for the people of Timor Leste and Atabae would be so much bleaker.

Finally, let us not lose sight of the simple fact that FPET exists to help those people who are less then fortunate than us.

Our role is the ensure that the people of Timor Leste are not forgotten and are given opportunities to be respected, develop personally and live free from poverty.

 

Thank you

Lindsay Stokes

President December 2015