HANDS: Fostering early childhood education in Timor-Leste

How to move forward? For a young country like the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, so young in fact that it was the first sovereign state of the twenty first century, one way to answer that question is with the future and opportunities created for its children. Since 2011, preschool education has become a priority for the Government of Timor-Leste and, with the support of the New Zealand government, a reality.

Read More
Searching for Futu Manu

Futu Manu is the Tetun term for cock fight, it’s a Timor-Leste pastime that outdates both the Indonesian and Portuguese rule of the country. In the bigger cities like Dili they are a daily occurrence at most markets in the evening, and a weekly occurrence in the smaller towns. A violent sport, it consists of both gambling and the consumption of tua sabu (palm sugar brandy).

Read More
Atauro Island

This small, mountainous island lies to the north of Timor-Leste’s capital Dili. We sailed to Beloi on its southern coast, before heading to the small village of Adara on the opposite side of Atauro. We took a truck up the shattered road to the drop off point from where we would walk across the island. The palm trees and low scrub of the coast gave way to hillsides full of eucalyptus, trunks white as bone. Scattered throughout the dry grass are black volcanic rocks, spat out by the earth long ago. 

Read More
Santa Cruz

It was Independence Day when we visited Santa Cruz cemetery; the streets surrounding it were quiet, save for the odd scooter and four wheel drive. Even the omnipresent Microlets, public vans festooned in paint and ornamentation, were few and far between.

As the heat and humidity bore down on us, we circled the block to reach the main gates of the graveyard. Eerily peaceful and deserted that day, sixteen years before this was where one of the most well-publicised acts of violence occurred during the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste, the Santa Cruz Massacre.

Read More