Author Archives: wbirkett

Geelong Celebrates Timor-Leste Independence

During May, the City of Greater Geelong marked the 15th anniversary of East Timor’s Independence with a flag ceremony at City Hall. Approximately 60 people were in attendance, which included representatives from Geelong Friends of Viqueque, Geelong Friendship Health Inc and Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools Inc.

Robyn Stevens, Manager Connected Communities emceed the event. Ms Stevens highlighted that the ceremony was a symbolic recognition of the connection between the people of Geelong and those of the District of Viqueque in East Timor.

“The local community has helped raise funds for the District of Viqueque, with the funds going towards the development of essential education and health services, including training teachers and nurses, and building and upgrading schools.

The flag ceremony was preceded by a student session, which included an excellent presentation by Christian College Year 12 Prefects Montana Jones, Millie Lowe, Cian Foster and Ronen Jafari who shared their learnings from their visits to East Timor.

Senior Sergeant Mark Lee from Victoria Police gave a heartfelt presentation on his work in East Timor as part of the first UN Police Force (INTERFET).

Sister Maria Moniz, who is the Principal of the Canossia Girls College in Baucau East Timor, and a guest of Sacred Heart College Geelong, read the Poem for Independence Day by Xanana Gusmao.

Christian Coll

Photo: SSgt Lee (right) with students from Christian College Geelong

Newsletter bumper edition

The latest edition of our newsletter has been released!

It includes a report from our President’s recent visit to Timor Leste and details of an upcoming fundraiser.

Click here to read

Time to Draw the Line

Want to know more about the long-running maritime boundary dispute between East Timor and Australia. Come along to a movie night held by Geelong Viqueque Friendship Schools.

The  screening of ‘Time to Draw the Line’  will be on  31 July at 8:30 at the Pivotonian Cinema, Geelong.

 Tickets are available by clicking here.


Record Numbers!

On Sunday afternoon 23rd April at 01 Viqueque, almost all of the 2017 scholarship holders were presented with certificates and money. A number of parents were present and two of the school principals. Mariano’s meticulous organisation resulted in a most impressive ceremony. There are 73 recipients for 2017 including those directly funded by Sacred Heart College and Geelong High School, with a total outlay of $US 8,000

All Geelong partner secondary and pre secondary schools were represented:

Secondary:           Calixa 9, 4 Septembro 12, St Esteavo 7 and Olocasa 8,

Pre-Secondary:   01 Viqueque 13, Cabira 4, St Teresinha 10 and Mundo Perdido 10.





Upcoming trivia night fundraiser

A second ‘library books for Timor Leste trivia night’ will be conducted on: Saturday 23rd March 2013 at Geelong West Town Hall
153 Pakingdon Street, Geelong West

It will be a fun night with great prizes, silent auctions and main auctions
Brian Nankervis of SBS’s ROCKWIZ will perform MC and host duties
Tickets $35, BYO plate and drinks
See below for more info:

Trivia night fundraiser 2013

Kardinia students return from Viqueque

For two weeks over November and December eight graduated students from Kardinia volunteered with schools in Viqueque, East Timor. The trip is an alternative to schoolies for school leavers who are after a more worldly experience, and for its second year has been mentored by Rhys Carlson who went with us to Timor.KIC viqueque trip 2012

The trip isn’t a school trip, since we’ve graduated, and once we were in Timor we had the freedom to talk to locals and explore the main street of Viqueque. We met several Timorese in particular who were eager to practice their English, and told us about their ambitions of building tourism and youth engagement in Timor’s future. We found this sense of optimism everywhere we went, with school staff in Viqueque telling us that the Geelong Schools Viqueque Friendship Group held a lot of promise for Timor.

We volunteered at a pair of schools, Cabira and Viqueque 1, teaching English and painting classrooms. We also sorted and catalogued Viqueque 1’s limited school library, a task complicated by how most of the books were in Portuguese. We took over piles of storybooks, stationary and sports equipment for the students, who took to them with enthusiasm. Mariano Dasilva, a local schoolteacher whom we worked with had us around for dinner twice so we could find out more about Viqueque, as well as to break the lack of variation in our diet of rice, chicken and noodles.
There are a few nuggets of wisdKIC Viqueque trip 2012 photo 2om to pass on to those going on the next Viqueque trip, first and foremost being that you should expect to sweat constantly. You should expect to bechallenged and you should expect to see things you weren’t expecting. You should expect a bus ride that makes you cherish solid ground, and you should expect a diet that varied only in whether or not you ordered the food you received. You should also expect to feel a closer engagement with the world. Talking to Timorese entrepreneurs and teachers, students and mothers, you should expect to see more clearly that all our fates are interconnected. Above all you should expect to expand your experience of the world outside our backyard, and come back more ready than ever to face uni and whatever challenges come after. 

Tetum Books for Tetum Kids

$9000 worth of books, purchased in Dili, was recently distributed to schools in Viqueque: 300 tetum dictionaries @ $20 produced by MacKillop Institute of Education, 200 tetum grammar books @ $9 written by Hull (University of Western Sydney). These books are endorsed by the East Timor Ministry of Education.

The teachers and students really appreciated books in their own language. A number of sets of short stories written in Tetum were also given to the four primary schools.