This community group provides fund raising and support for the people of Vemasse, Timor-Leste.
Cr Josh Fergeus is Council's liaison with this group.
Council's support of the Monash Friends of Vemasse is an adjunct to the formal Friendship Agreement the Council has signed with the people of Vemasse. Timor Leste is the poorest country in our region and one of the world's poorest. Vemasse is a sub-district of the District of Baucau and consists of seven villages and 24 hamlets.
Nearly 400 years of neglect and suppression during the Portuguese colonial period was followed by the brief but brutal Indonesian occupation. When the Indonesians were forced to leave, they took what they could with them and destroyed what they couldn't. The result is that most people live on less than $1 a day and the malnutrition rate is among the highest in the world.
There has always been a food deficit towards the end of the dry season. However, the virtual failure of the 'wet' season in the last few years has compounded the people's difficult situation.
The major aim of the group is to develop a long-term relationship with people in Vemasse and to transfer resources there so they can be assisted to rebuild their lives.
Friendship Agreement - Vemasse and Monash
In December 2008, Monash City Council agreed to form a Friendship Agreement with the Sub-District of Vemasse.
This was signed in May 2009.
What are we doing?
Thanks to Alex Gusmao, formerly a Community Development student at Victoria University and from Vemasse, there is a committee in Vemasse through which we work.
Alex visited the villages and got together a group, which represents Schools, Women's Groups, the Churches, Local Government and other Community Organisations, and they have drawn up and prioritised their needs.
The committee has done an excellent job in accounting for money sent.
Project Support - Schools
Despite the impact of the drought, the Vemasse committee determined its number one priority is the education of its youth. They asked us to support two schools - the Junior Secondary in Liolubo Village located in the hills and the Senior Secondary School in Vemasse.
Neither of these schools currently receives any government support, so the teachers are volunteers and there is little in the way of equipment, writing materials and text books.
We are also sending books, writing materials, school furniture and school bags for schools generally in Vemasse Sub-District. Rotary graciously ships these for us.
How can you help?
Become a Friend of Vemasse:
- $10 per annum
- Make a donation
- Register to receive information of the group's activities
- Offer your help at future
- Fundraising events
- Volunteer your skills that may be of use here and in Vemasse.
Call Gillian Lang (President) on 9802 7766 or Heather Spurling (Secretary) on 9807 2714.