May Waterford and Judy Finch have been together for 24 years. They raised four children, who are now beautiful young adults, and have three grandchildren.

 Mary and Judy have had a long commitment and involvement with Timor-Leste, being part of the Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters group. Mary says, “We’ve been working in Timor-Leste since 2004 because its our nearest neighbour and has so little resources.”  Earlier this year they packed up their house and moved to Timor-Leste taking up a positions with a woman’s NGO as volunteers for 18 months.

During the years they have helped and made relationships with some inspiring local people. One of those is Olandino (pictured above with his family) who has had a dream to build student accommodation so that young people can access education in Dili.  The families Hatobuilico are subsistence farmers who make a small livelihood from growing vegetables in a harsh mountainous terrain, many have 8 or 9 children, and parents did not get an opportunity to go to school and are illiterate. And many parents and their children dream of education.

The challenge form many poor young people wanting to study is how they manage to live and to study in Dili. This is the obstacle facing many young people from Hatobuilico. For most, there is no easy solution. Many fail to complete their education because they are often just trying to get enough to eat or pay for electricity to study at night.  Some do poorly because survival becomes the main objective in everyday life.

Olandino de Araujo is one of these young people. He knows that he needs to make a home to be able to study in Dili. And he understands the plight of others from his sub-district. Olandino has another dream now and that is to build a student accommodation house in Dili that he and others can live in. He arranged with his uncle to provide the land and he and his friends started to build the foundations for a small house.

Mary says, “Jude & I are fundraising to help this gutsy and determined group of young students build a home so they can study in Dili. We have known young Olandino for many years and knew about his dream to build this house.”

Orlandino then asked them to see what he was building, “We were amazed when he asked us to see what they we doing and they has already laid the foundations…only in Timor can you just do it with no building applications.” Mary tells.

“When Olandino took us to see the building site, we met an enthusiastic group of young men and women carrying rocks and constructing form work.  Energy and determination they had in spades. But the capacity to buy the cement and the bricks and tin needed for the next stage of works was out of their reach.”

Mary points out that the building project has other benefits, “it’s more than being able to attend university. It is also giving them skills in organizing themselves, building, budgeting, group dynamics. They are so proud of themselves!” 

Mary and Judy are personally known to Rainbow Families committee members. Above is a picture of their extended family. They are committed, ethical women with a lot of heart. We encourage members of our community to join the Facebook group, offer encouragement and financial support if you can. If you are still wondering what to give some friends or families for Christmas, consider a gift certificate from this foundation.

Uma Ramelau Foundation

 A foundation has been established and all fund donated go directly to pay for the materials.  The project will enable young people from poor families in Hatobuilico, which is 100 kms from Dili or a six hour drive, to break the cycle of poverty and access education.

Donate to the foundation and know that the young people are doing all the labour - you can follow their progress on the Facebook page.

Funding target

Building a small house is not an expensive deal in Timor-Leste, about $8,000 to construct and fit out a very simple building with 4 bedrooms (8 students residing – half each young women and men) and a small common area, a kitchen and toilet.  Labour would be voluntary. 

How you can help

Bank: Ramelau Foundation

Bendigo  Bank - BSB: 633 000 Account Number: 158456491

These gutsy young people need your help! Obrigada barak!