Fresh start for East Timorese students

THE lives of 300 East Timorese children could be vastly improved as part of a local group’s plan to visit Letefoho Senior High School this year.

Water East Timor (WET) will meet on Wednesday from 7.30pm at the WDEA office building to discuss its proposed 2014 project and report on last year’s activity.

The Warrnambool-based group aims to improve East Timorese water and sanitation systems and management, health promotion and education.

WET president and project manager Andy Graham has made 14 trips to East Timor over the past 10 years and was a founding group member two years ago.

He said WET had been asked on a recent visit to help renovate a school in a trip later this year, along with Warrnambool East Rotary Club and other groups from around Australia.

“We were over in Timor three weeks ago and looked at a project in the village Letefoho, a parish school with 300 students that needs refurbishing,” Mr Graham said.

“They need water, a new toilet block, electrical, a new roof. This meeting will let our members and the public know exactly what’s happening this year.

“The more people we can get involved, the more people can understand what’s happening.”

He said a key part of the group’s overseas mission was to empower local Timorese workers.

“We’re not an NGO group that flies in and out — we’re flying in and teaching the Timorese to do their own work and we’re following up all the time.

“We’ve put in over 20km of freshwater pipes, so around 2500 people have fresh water that didn’t have it before.

“Some of those villages haven’t had fresh water in their life, they’ve had to cart it six kilometres.

“The children and women do the carting, so if they’re not carting they can go to school and if they’re going to school they can get a basic education.”

Mr Graham said 67 people had been part of the Water East Timor group, with nine involved in overseas trips.

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