Empowering ahead the women of East Timor

SARA Webster is helping East Timorese women to overcome domestic violence and abuse while creating opportunities for women to be economically independent in the future.

The former Warrnambool woman has been in Baucau since April last year and she is looking to extend her contract with the Centru Feto Haburas Dezenvolvimento (CFHD).

CFHD translates to the Centre for Women’s Growth and Development, and is a non-government organisation.

It was established by a group of dedicated Timorese women who were disenfranchised by the lack of opportunities offered to women and the alarming levels of domestic violence and sexual abuse in their district. 

Ms Webster was a student at Brauer College until year 10 before transferring to Ballarat and Clarendon College for VCE. 

She completed a bachelor of arts at Melbourne University and is currently studying a masters of social development from the University of New South Wales.

The 26-year-old spotted the position in Timor through the Australian Volunteers for International Development website and became an adviser role to CFHD through Australian Red Cross.

“I applied for the job with CFHD because it was a grassroots organisation working to empower women. 

“I knew little about East Timor, apart from snippets of Australia’s role within their history. Both the work and country were of interest to me.”

Ms Webster’s role is supported by the Australian government. She said CFHD tries to empower women to lead independent and dignified lives, working particularly with those who are at risk of or who have survived violence. 

“The centre runs economic empowerment programs and travels to rural villages to educate communities about human rights, gender equality and violence,” she said.

“They establish focal points to assist victims of violence in remote areas, training them and equipping them with a phone and credit to report incidents quickly.”

Two new projects, a training café and cooking classes, aim to ensure the centre can start to secure its own funds to continue.

Ms Webster said the centre was in need of further financial and material support. For further information email org.cfhd@gmail.com or check out www.cfhd.weebly.com

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