Category Archives for "Supporting Communities"

Dec 29

Composting toilets

News , Projects - Current , Promoting health, education and EcoDev , Supporting Communities

Project Description:
Providing composting toilets for both community facilities and village households on Atauro Island.

Project Need:
The villages of Atauro Island do not have mains sewerage. People use drop toilets and many go to the toilet in the open fields. These existing practices are unhygienic and contribute to the health problems of the local people. There is a limited and unreliable water supply. The building of composting toilets supports the welfare and health of school students as well as providing hygienic toilet facilities not only for local people but also for visitors to the island.

Project description, cost and management:
The composting toilet adopts a local design developed initially for the use at the Tua Ko’in Ecolodge. The local IAFG facilitator, Marcelo, in conjunction with health administration officials, local chefes and community members, identify the sites for each toilet. Marcelo organises local labour and materials to construct the toilets. Communities are trained in the proper use and maintenance of the toilets. There are important advantages to having teams of local labour construct the toilets. Greater ownership of the toilets come from being involved in the construction and this is clearly seen in photos of community members following the toilet’s completion. An important flow on effect of the toilet construction is the injection of much needed cash into largely subsistence village economies.

It costs approximately $750(AUD)to build a toilet. There is some variation in the cost because of the remote location of some villages and the need to transport specific materials. Once the toilets are completed, and a sign made acknowledging the donor, a photo is sent with a very detailed invoice to the IAFG. Marcelo also facilitates an education process to ensure local people understand how to use and maintain the toilet effectively.

Across, 2020 to 2022 drought and the covid pandemic have made the completion of all the planned toilets difficult. The scarcity of water made making the concrete bricks and slabs very difficult. Most of the water in these times is carted from small springs some distance away. There have not been large scale Covid cases on Atauro but restrictions imposed to control Covid, in particular the cancelling of the Dili ferry has made getting supplies difficult. As these restrictions are eased we look forward to maximizing the construction of these toilets.

 Over twenty toilets have been built on Atauro. Currently, the Friendship Group has committed to building between 3 and 5 toilets a year.

Since 2011 we have had numerous individuals and organisations who have donated funds to construct one or a number of toilets. We thank all of these donors. Currently the Kiewa/Tangambalanga Lions Club and Indigo Shire Youth Ambassadors have been on-going and generous donors to this project.

Hahi Pa'an family toilet sponsored by the Kiewa/Tangambalanga Lions Club

St Mary's Cave toilet sponsored by the Indigo Shire Youth Ambassadors

Simone from Iliana village inspecting his work

Ventilated Pit Latrine Design

These students are very pleased with their new toilet

Marcelo and Simone signing off and providing much needed cash payment for his work on the toilet

Jul 30

Developing joint projects

Celebrating Friendship , News , Projects - Current , Sharing Cultures , Supporting Communities

Photo:  L-R:  Rob (Indigo), Marcelo (Roman Luan), Avelina (Atauro Tourism Officer), Duarte (Roman Luan) and Frances (Indigo)

Developing joint projects with Roman Luan and the Atauro Island Community

We are very fortunate to have Roman Luan (a locally based non-government community organisation)as a partner in our friendship activities with the Atauro community. One of their project officers Marcelo Soares works part-time as the facilitator of our activities. This has been especially important over the past two years because visits by Indigo community members have not been possible. He organises the student scholarship program and acts as a mentor for the students during their studies. He is responsible for developing and overseeing the local work teams that construct the composting toilets. Over the years he has hosted many Indigo community visitors and is always willing to help with either large or small activities. We are grateful to the Indigo shire for the community grant that pays Marcelo for his work.

Roman Luan works closely with Atauro Island’s administrators, community organisations and individuals to identify areas of development that will benefit the community of Atauro.

Roman Luan has supported Indigo Atauro Friendship in specific major projects such as the Scholarship Program and Constructing Composting Toilets. Indigo/Atauro Friendship has supported Roman Luan in other major projects in the past Eg. the Tua Ko’in Eco Lodge and the development of Kindergartens on Atauro. We have worked together on smaller programs such as developing school gardens and providing maternal health equipment to clinics.

Roman Luan officers, Indigo representative and the first scholarship students in 2010. R-L Marcelo Soares, Judit Pereria, Charles Xavier Avelino Fernandez, Anani Weles, Francis Walsh.

Students of Arlo village receive solar powered study lights from Roman Luan officers in 2021

Jul 30

Student Scholarship Program

News , Projects - Current , Promoting health, education and EcoDev , Supporting Communities

Project description:
Providing scholarships for students from Atauro to study at either  tertiary or vocational colleges. Our first student started in 2011 and our first graduate was in 2016. Up to 2021 we have had 11 students graduate and we currently support 7 students in their studies.

Project Need: 
Very few families on Atauro Island have the financial resources to send their children to the mainland for further education. Most are subsistence farmers/fishermen and there is a limited cash economy. It is unlikely that young people staying on the island will be able to obtain paid employment. Education is vital to the development of Atauro Island and for Timor Leste as a nation. By providing an opportunity for some of the brighter, hard-working students to pursue higher education we can have an impact on individuals, families and the wider community.

Project description, cost and management:
Marcelo Belo Soares is our liaison officer on Atauro who works with the senior High School teachers to identify potential candidates and to arrange a rigorous selection process including interviews, parent meetings and the signing of an agreement. Indigo Atauro Friendship provides some financial support for the work done on our behalf by Marcelo. He will liaise with the Alola Foundation to provide the best possible support for the students while they are in Dili.
The move to Dili away from family and friends is often a difficult one. Some of our students are mature age and have family responsibilities that make it difficult to combine study, work and family care. Others have had serious health issues that have prevented them from completing their studies. We currently have 4 students on leave, 3 of whom have expressed a strong desire to return and complete their course.
The resilience of all of these young people is to be admired.
We have elected to award scholarships to one male and one female student each year. These students will be assisted to select their courses at accredited institutions, then financially supported to attend that institution. Funds will cover tuition fees, books and other stationery, travel costs and living expenses of $80 US per month. For most students the financial support to complete their education will continue for three to five years. The students will be required to show evidence that they are attending and passing their courses.

Project costs:
Scholarship for one year (Between $2000AUD and $3500AUD depending on course)

Indigo representative Marcelo Soares provides an introduction to all candidates and their parents before the interviews in 2020/2021

Marcelo briefs the 2 successful candidates and their parents about the scholarship program requirements before they go to the Alola Foundation in Dili.

Graduate  Indigo /Atauro Friendship Scholarship Students

2016      Eva Saldhla, Nursing, Cristal Institute, sponsored by Beechworth Surgery

                Alirio Soares, Community Health, UNPAZ (Peace University), sponsored by Beechworth Uniting Church

                Barnabe de Araujo Soares, Nursing, Cristal Institute, general sponsorship

2017       Anani Weles, UNTL, Information technology, sponsored by Indigo Shire/ Porter family

                Leopoldina dos Santos, Tourism &Hospitality, DIT, sponsored by Skirmer family & CSU Ecotourism

2018       Marcelina de Araujo, Economic Management, UNPAZ, sponsored by Indigo Shire

                Gedeo Soares, Engineering, DIT, sponsored by Turnbull family

2019       Charles Xavier, Information Technology, Institute of Business, sponsored by Hosking/Taylor family

                Obed de Araujo, Nursing, Institute of Health Science, sponsored by Indigo Shire

2020       Herminia de Costa Soares, Hospitality Cert. 2, Tibar Vocational college, sponsored by Porter family

2021       Germano de Araujo, Geology, UNTL, sponsored by Beechworth Uniting Church

We congratulate all of our students.We wish our graduates in particular good luck in finding employment in the area of their choosing. Often students have taken on voluntary positions in an effort to gain experience and be in a position to fill paid employment when available. In this way they are making a very special contribution to the Atauro community and other communities around Timor Leste.

Current students:

UNTL refers to the National University of Timor Leste, DIT is The Dili Institute

Ratna De Araujo - Nursing at Cristal Institute

Josefino De Costa Gusmao - Civil Engineering at UNTL

Crizanio Freitas Soares - Animal Health at UNTL

Juvinal Soares - Medicine at UNTL

Anabela Cura de Araujo - Accounting at UNTL

Eva de Araujo Lopes - Laboratory Science at UNTL 

Martinho Soares - Agriculture at UNTL

Rosalita da Costa Soares - Tourism & Hospitality, Deli Institute

Domingos P de Araujo Soares - Science Education, Catholic University