How we’re helping the people of Atabae
Initially there was a need for emergency relief which was met with both goods and funding. Large quantities of clothing and some basic household equipment were provided from Australia. Subsequently, we have delivered aid mainly through funding so that goods can be purchased in East Timor if possible. We also devoted much of our funds to helping with the restoration and rebuilding of critically needed buildings including schools and chapels which are also used as general purpose community gathering places.
Soon after we rebuilt some schools we undertook to pay teacher salaries for these schools. This was always with the expectation that either the local church or government would take over this responsibility. Eventually this became quite an expense as the number of teachers increased over time. It was only due to the modest wages prevailing in East Timor that we could afford the expense but now the government has accepted this responsibility and we are no longer paying teacher salaries.
We once thought that the community health centre may be our last investment in community buildings as we expected that the basic needs could be funded from other sources including the East Timor government. However,we have since made limited contributions to assist with desperately needed expansion of the Atabae parish primary school and the construction of a village chapel at Liminaro.
We see it as more important to focus on sustainable community development though the building up of skills within the community.
Our main activities now can be summarised as supporting PALMS volunteers who focus on the continuing district priorities as discerned with the Atabae community organisation, Friends and Partners with Australia (FPA). This currently includes:
- Managing the integration of the Community Health programme, including the trainee volunteers, into the government health services.
- Working with the community to enable further community development and developing project management capacity within the community
- Meeting identified unmet gaps in education such as English language and computer skills
- Supporting youth by funding relevant student scholarships and encouraging the activities of the local Comoning Youth Association.
- Continuing to support our relationship with the Atabae community while being open to the possibility of addressing other needs within East Timor, especially in the western border area.