August 23 - 29, 2015: Issue 228

 Pittwater’s Sister Village, Soibada in Timor Leste - Update 1/2015


Team of volunteers  July 2015: Back l-r Robert Johnson, Tamara Sloper Harding, Addie Dedden, Maya Burton, Isabeau Harding, Rebecca Ashton, Robert Romer, Front: Ebony Anderson, Ian Laidlaw

 Pittwater’s Sister Village, Soibada in Timor Leste 

Update 1/2015

In July several members of our local Pittwater community, travelled to Soibada in Timor Leste. We remain true to the terms of our friendship agreement signed between our local government and that of Soibada in 2010, and do not impose our judgement or ideas on the community of Soibada. Instead, we do our best to respond to their requests and attempt to assist them to achieve sustainable development and change in accordance with the needs identified by their own community. Truly listening to the Soibada community, understanding the culture and reading between the lines can be a challenge in itself for our volunteers. When we visit Soibada and see how very little they have, in comparison to us here in Australia, it is natural for us to draw our own conclusions, based on our lifestyles, as to what should be done in the village. As volunteers and guests we must remain humble and listen carefully not just to the verbal messages of the people but also be aware of the many complex things that remain unspoken.

We delivered the much anticipated blankets so lovingly crafted by ladies in Pittwater, a couple of laptops to principals of the schools and a sewing machine for the women.  We spent time at the Dominican Convent and Orphanage. The Soibada Pittwater Foster Student Scheme commenced. We had meetings about the Preschool project development and planning meetings for the new High School Project. (This will become Friends of Soibada’s main fundraising effort in 2016.) We also conducted research into the development of the coffee project in Salau.

The main aim of the visit however was to facilitate the following projects:

Water. The installation of guttering, water tanks, solar panels and Tank Pro sanitation equipment to Salau School. Check water sanitation and Tank Pro installed previously in Tasi Fatin at Sacred Heart Primary school’s sister School.

Literacy. Deliver books from Sacred Heart and Maria Regina Primary Schools and Mona Vale Library to Primary Schools in Somoro, Salau and Tasi Fatin.


Clean drinking water for the children at Salau School

Youth. Soibada Youth Needs Assessment. Interviews and video recording with Soibada youth. Partnership with ENACTUS and UNSW. Some ex Mater Maria students are leading the Youth Program.

Maya and Addie conducting the youth needs assessment interviews

Training/Education and Tourism. Review of Training Centre and Guesthouse project, construction site inspection and planning meetings for hospitality training.

Friendship Schools. Friendship school visits. (Already 4 schools in Pittwater are linked with schools in Soibada – the aim is to link every school in Soibada with a school in Pittwater.)

Over the next few weeks I will provide more details about each project. Next week at a cocktail party we will launch our biggest fundraising drive yet and you are all invited! In order to finish the Training Centre and commence building the Senior High School we will all have an opportunity to “purchase bricks” for $10. Everyone’s names will be recorded in a special book and the people of Soibada will see how everyone in our community has come together to help them achieve their dreams of a better education. 

Please remember – volunteers are always welcome!  You can contact me on  

How can you help?

• Please help with fundraising for the Training Centre and High School buildings. Promote the “Buy a brick” campaign.

• We are looking for laptops in good working condition for the Principals and teachers in the schools in Soibada.

• We desperately need volunteer doctors (preferably specialists) to travel to Soibada in this coming October and July next year.

• We need someone to assist with the water project in the orphanage in October this year.

Tamara Sloper Harding

Chairperson, Pittwater Friends of Soibada


 Construction site of Training Centre - Below - Walls are going up!