Funds gathered through the previous Blue Mountains Treks for Timor have resulted in major differences in the isolated, rural area of Hatobuilico in Timor-Leste. The Hatobuilico community and Trek organisers alike are grateful to the array of contributors who have combined to make a real difference in the day-to-day lives and futures of people living in the harsh, demanding though beautiful place that is the sub-district of Hatobuilico.
Briefly, the 2016 funds were used for the following projects:-
- Assistance with setting the new Senior Secondary School in Hatobuilico. This allowed students to attend school locally, rather than having to board in Dili or other nearby centres.
- Further assistance to Taurema School (previously built with funds from Trek for Timor 2012) including building a kitchen and sleeping shelter for teachers.
- Financial assistance with developing a house in Dili to provide accommodation for university students from Hatobuilico
- Resources for Hatobuilico Preschool
- Fencing for water source in Hatobuilico
- Facilitating the development of income-generating projects for women
For more detailed information about the projects that have been supported, READ ON.
The sub-district now provides an opportunity for young people wanting to finish their secondary education to study within their own community. Before, students were unable to continue their last three years of schooling without leaving home and community and moving to Dili or another regional town to study. Now, with your help, Hatobuilico has a well functioning and attended secondary school in its midst, children can stay in the security of their own home and continue to contribute to their family’s life. Trek has kept the school viable, maintaining the option for committed teachers to remain in the area to teach, providing resources such as desks for teachers, musical and sporting equipment and the construction of a dormitory for young people still living far from school to live and study in place. Still emerging as a developing country, Timor-Leste continues to struggle with developing an education system. Teachers still are largely unpaid!
Trek has contributed to the small, more isolated community of Taurema. A major achievement was the construction of a primary school which now boasts 7 teachers on staff and 130 plus students. The introduction of this school has had broader unforeseen benefits of a massive scale including the building of the first traversable road through the area meaning that farmers are now able to get their product to markets without needing to walk and carry, as had previously been the only option. Economic outcomes have also included bringing electricity for the first time into the area. Trek has continued to support this small school by constructing a kitchen for community volunteers to cook the school feeding program (needed across the nation still facing impactful malnutrition) and a shelter for teachers to sleep overnight (most walk over 2 hours each way to work at the school).
Accessing education presents grave complexities for young people attending university too – finding accommodation, feeding themselves, having a place to study being just some of the factors that children of desperately poor families must contend with. Trek has responded by assisting the developing of a student house in Dili. Called “Uma Ramelau” after the famous mountains that towers over the village at the heart of Hatobuilico, the venture enables students to focus on completing their studies so they can take their needed skills back to Hatobuilico to contribute to its future.
Trek funds were also used to build on resources for Hatobuilico Preschool and to the for ‘New Books for a New Nation” project, providing a range of Timorese story books to support the new curriculum in schools.
The Hatobuilico community struggles with access to clean water and water potage are ongoing challenges. Last year the water source for the Hatobuilico primary school and neighbouring homes was protected from animals spoiling the water through fencing the area.
Trek organisers are proud to have started two initiatives that have directly benefited women. The first of these was building a community centre for women victims of calculated and prolonged rape during the occupation in Mauchiga suco (in the Hatobuilico Sub-District and set on the flanks of rugged Mt Kablaki). This determined group of women is already introducing initiatives to bring in money – by roasting locally grown coffee, weaving baskets and baking cakes to sell in the local markets. Income and support to respond to extreme trauma by working together is already reaping benefits for the women and the community.
Spread across other areas within Hatobuilico, 5 other women’s groups are being actively supported to skill up and contribute to their community as well as to build ways of bringing in needed income for members. Projects range from developing small kiosks or shops, to weaving tais, to conserving traditional handicrafts such as crochet, to serving coffee and cake to tourists climbing Timor’s highest mountain, Mt Ramelau.