There is always so much happening here, and we are often slowed down in our communications by still-regular power-outages. We hope to share more regular updates on our work. For now, we offer a run-down of what we have been up to since the start of 2001:
La’o Hamutuk’s New Office: Last week we moved our office from the outskirts of town to a quite central location in the Farol area of Dili. We are surrounded by a number of other local NGOs; we are in the same building as Sa’he Institute for Liberation and the East Timor Jurists Association, and just next door to Yayasan HAK. Please come and visit us if you are able.
La’o Hamutuk Bulletin: In January and February, we worked on widening the distribution of the Bulletin. We made many additional copies of the four existing editions and, together with other local NGOs, worked to guarantee distribution to outlying districts. We received a great deal of positive response from East Timorese and internationals to the last edition, which focused on the World Bank. Two World Bank consultants contacted our office in February to discuss our monitoring of the Agricultural Rehabilitation Project and the Community Empowerment Program. [See: 'Assessing the WB’s Agricultural Project' & 'Evaluating the WB’s CEP Project' in La’o Hamutuk Bulletin Volume 1, no. 4., 31 December 2000 BD] We are currently finishing up the next edition that will focus on the IMF as well as how some significant funds are spent in East Timor.
La’o Hamutuk Surat Popular: We started the new year with the publication of our first "surat popular" or popular page. The initiative grew from our recognition that the majority of East Timorese have difficulty reading our Bulletin. The popular page is designed to both share information and serve as a tool for popular education. In each edition, there are questions to spark discussions. The first edition described La’o Hamutuk and introduced the idea of popular education. The second edition focused on health, drawing from some of the ideas found in our health system-focused Bulletin, v.1, no.3. The third and latest edition looks at development, offering critical questions about how development is defined. All of our popular pages are created with an eye towards empowering at the community level. In February, La’o Hamutuk organized a meeting which representatives from Yayasan HAK, Fokupers, Sa’he Institute, Haburas, and the Justice and Peace Commission attended. Each group in attendance agreed to distribute the surat popular and offer feedback for the development of future editions. We will also provide several women’s organizations (OPMT, OMT, and GFFTL) with copies of the surat popular for them to use in their planned literacy work.
La’o Hamutuk Public Meetings: La’o Hamutuk continues to sponsor public meetings to help facilitate information sharing and discussion about critical issues of the reconstruction process. At these meetings, there is time for each participant to introduce themselves and their organization as well as share any news. One or more speakers are invited to discuss a particular topic. We consistently receive very favorable feedback. Many people tell us that they have gained a better understanding of various aspects of the development process through reading of the bulletins and/or attendance at these programs.
· 28 February: Speaker: Maria Domingas Alves of Fokupers;
Topic: Women’s Role in the Reconstruction of East Timor with a Focus on the Grassroots.
· 17 February: Speaker: Michael Carnahan of Central Fiscal Authority ETTA; Topic: Money and East Timor: Understanding the Budget Process for East Timor.
· 27 January: Speaker: David Haeri, Cabinet Secretary ETTA; Topic: Functions and Procedures of the ETTA Cabinet.
· 13 January: Speaker: Patrick Burgess and Galuh Wandita of UNTAET Human Rights Division and Aniceto Guterres of Yayasan HAK; Topic: the proposed Truth, Reception and Reconciliation Commission. [See: Jan 23 AGE: Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation BD]
Upcoming topics in the next 6 weeks are likely: Land Dispute mechanisms and models, the Justice system, and due to popular demand, more on the budget and money matters
8 March: A closer look at the state of education. Interviewed a teacher and a high school director.
1 March: Revisited health issues, specifically dengue and malaria and their social and political costs. Interviewed a medical staff person from PAS Clinic.
22 February: Looking at the isolation of Oe-cusse. Interview with Arsenio Beno (NGO Forum director) and Ana Paula (NC rep from Oe-cusse).
15 February: Looking at public health. Interviewed a medical staff person from PAS Clinic.
8 February: Discussed our bulletin editorial connecting the health system to the Timor Gap oil negotiations.
January: Went to the radio station
and observed Sa'he staff during their
NGO Forum Working Groups: La’o Hamutuk
is active with the NGO Forum’s Working
Group on Civic and Voter Education and the Working Group on Constitutional
Issues. With the former, we wrote a document on international institutions
and foreign bodies and their potential impact on the political process
in East Timor. This document has been presented and discussed with the
working group and will appear, in edited form, in a book which will be
used for a national campaign of civic/voter education. The latter, the
Working Group on Constitutional Issues, is presently working to ensure
that the process of developing a national constitution for East Timor is
legitimate and that the constitution truly represents the views of the
people of East Timor. We actively discuss the process being presented by
UNTAET and plan strategies for a broad educational campaign on constitutional
issues, La’o Hamutuk has been asked to disseminate information from this
group to the international community via our email lists.
La’o Hamutuk Staff and Volunteers:
We have made several forays into professional development. We have held
internal staff meetings solely to have one of the staff present to the
others findings on an important topic (past ones include the budget process
in depth, lessons from Cambodian NGOs working under UNTAC,and current political
parties). Two of the staff also participated in a four-day advocacy training
program run by Oxfam and Yayasan
Hak. La’o Hamutuk is actively seeking applications from East Timorese.
We have received some applications and will make a hiring decision by early
April. We hope to hire at least two East Timorese staff and one international
staff within the next month. Benjamin Sanches continues to assist us with
translation work, but is no longer a full-time staff person. We are fortunate
to have a steady group of translators who help us publish our documents
in several languages. Sebastiao Pinto da Cruz now volunteers his artistry
(see the surat popular for his work). And Christian Ranheim is now volunteering
with La’o Hamutuk to examine the justice system in East Timor. He has been
observing trials and is exploring starting a new
project that would receive support and guidance from La’o Hamutuk and the
East Timor Jurists’ Association. The new project would establish a
Funding and Support: Despite profound frustration at the level of incompetence we have experienced at our bank, the BNU, we seem to be able to receive most wire transfers without a glitch. We are happy to announce that we will be meeting with representatives of the Finnish government later this month to finalize their offer to help in funding La’o Hamutuk. We are also awaiting a grant in May from the Handleman Foundation in Miami, Florida, USA. And we are in communication with the Japanese International Volunteer Center. This group is interested in assisting us with both funding and arranging and sustaining a volunteer. Solidarity activists in all three countries – Finland, Japan, and the US – helped facilitate our receiving these mentioned funds. These monies will allow us to continue our activities at the present level through the end of the year, but – given all the needs to be done – we need to grow and thus need more funding. The next months are critical as development and election plans continue apace. In this regard, we encourage all to help out in any way they can. Thanks.
La'o Hamutuk: East Timor Institute for Reconstruction Monitoring and Analysis
La'o Hamutuk (Tetum for Walking Together) is a joint East Timorese-international organization that seeks to monitor, to analyze, and to report on the reconstruction activities of the principal international institutions. It believes that the people of East Timor must be the ultimate decisionmakers in the reconstruction process and that the process should be as democratic and transparent as possible ...
East Timorese staff: Inès Martins, Benjamin Sanchez Afonso; International staff: Pamela Sexton, Mark Salzer Executive board: Sr. Maria Dias, Joseph Nevins, Fr. Jovito Rego de Jesus Araùjo, Aderito Soares
International contact: +1-510-643-4507 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Homepage: http://www.etan.org/lh