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Notes from Jude – an Australian AVI in Hato Builico

August 29, 2011

Taurema School and Village Hato Builico sub district

Hau nia naran Jude Finch ho hau servisu iha Timor Leste tinan ida nudar voluntaria. Hau hosi Blue Mountains iha Australia.  Dala ruma hau servicu iha Sub-Distritu Hatobuilico.

My name is Jude Finch and I am working in Timor Leste as a volunteer for a year as a volunteer. I am from the Blue Mountains in Australia. Some of my work is in Hatobuilico Sub-District. I have a particular role within the Hatobuilico Sub-District and that is to support the community in developing programs that particularly focus on education for children and adults. 

Education is pivotal in Timor Leste’s development as a new nation. In 2010 when the last Census was taken, 42% of the population did not have functional literacy or numeracy skills. In Hatobuilico the majority of people are subsistence farmers and their very livelihood is dependent on the success of their crops. Without education, the capacity of this generation and the next to learn new skills and to be able to change their source of livelihood, will be severely limited.

I am fortunate to be working closely with the community to start a new program this year. We are setting  up a new centre providing education (literacy and numeracy, IT, English tuition, tourism training, sewing, agricultural training) in Hatobuilico village itself.

I first visited Hatobuilico in 2005. When I returned this year, I found that there has not been much change in the village itself though one of the pousadas  (guest houses) has increased in size dramatically, offering more beds for visitors. Last year, as part of the introduction of the Ramelau Festival as a national music event held in Hatobuilico itself, many houses have been upgraded, sporting new roofs.  Solar street lights have been erected all along the entrance road to the village and up to the Ramelau gates. The gates to Mt Ramelau and the surrounding open space have been beautified with gorgeous gardens, stone walls, water features with two covered lookouts from which to enjoy the views back to Hatobuilico village. The path to the top of Mt Ramelau has been improved greatly, with the formed steps stretching for the first third of the trail and the remainder of the trail easy to define and safe to traverse.

There is still a need to take a guide though as the path does diverge and safety is assured when taking the walk to the top of the mountain with skilled company. Apart from safety, it is important and respectful to employ a local guide to walk on the tracks around Hatobuilico and on Mt Ramelau. Guiding is a central part of the local economy.  Walkers are also reminded that Mt Ramelau is sacred to the Timorese and also when walking in other areas, one is walking through people’s homes.

The Hatobuilico community wants to build tourism. Tourism brings important and needed resources into this very poor community and offers the visitor a unique opportunity to visit rural Timor, the day to day lifestyle barely changed in centuries.  The visitor would enjoy astounding views, walk in untouched forest, see local people working in their fields or leading ponies laden with vegetables to market or living in traditional houses, meet friendly and welcoming children and their parents. 

When tourists visit Hatobuilico, we hope that they will consider staying a bit longer, take more of the walks in the surrounding hills and villages and meet the people. Jude Finch Aug 2011 [When not in timor Jude lives and works in Blue Mountains NSW Australia]

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