Timorese women learning life skills

Monday, 11 July 2011

Australian Catholic University’s (ACU) Brisbane Campus hosted two East Timorese women recently as part of the Timor Cards cooperative, a project which supports 56 Timorese women and their families. 

Developed by the Terrace Timor Network (TTN), the Timor Cards cooperative is designed to build a sustainable social business enterprise for the women, allowing them to support themselves and their families.

To earn an income, the women produce cards which are then distributed through the TTN network, and sold at a number of outlets including the Queensland Art Gallery.

Donna Cook, Academic Manager of ACU’s English Language Centre and Chair of the Education Focus area for TTN, said the project was incredibly important.

“This work has the potential to transform the lives of the women involved and their whole community,” she said.

“They are learning skills, earning a much needed income and taking responsibility for their own futures.”

The Timorese women, Olinda Freitas and Esperanca Ximenes, have taken a leadership role within the craft circle and spent two weeks in Australia to learn English and computer skills.

“The cards are beautiful, good quality, and the money that we make from them helps my family… It helps us buy food, school supplies and improve our houses,” said Olinda.

The women have now returned home to East Timor to manage the production of the cards and liaise with TTN for distribution.

East Timor is among the poorest countries of East Asia. Foremost among the development issues East Timor is faced with, is the widespread poverty and inequality within the country.

Approximately 40 per cent of the population live below the national poverty line - on less than US$0.55 per day.