CWA members to hear personal stories from East Timor

Published 31 January 2012

east_timorThe personal stories of East Timorese women, and performances of Timorese music by professional musicians, will be features of this year’s CWA Country of Study School, which will focus on the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

Almost 200 members of the Country Women’s Association of NSW will travel to the University of New England from all over the State for the annual Study School, which will run this year from Friday the 3rd to Sunday the 5th of February.

Among the many highlights of the program will be a performance by the celebrated East Timorese singer-songwriter Ego Lemos (whose award-winning song “Balibo” was a feature of the film of that name) and a talk by Paul Cleary, author of Shakedown: Australia’s Grab for Timor Oil and The Men Who Came Out of the Ground (about Australia’s guerrilla war against the Japanese in Timor in the 1940s). Paul Cleary’s talk will be titled “Australia’s war-time debt to the people of East Timor”.

The Consul-General of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Ms Maria José da Fonseca Monteiro de Jesus, will present a “Welcome to Timor-Leste” at the Study School’s formal dinner on Friday evening, and an introductory talk on Saturday morning to begin the weekend’s program of presentations.

That program will include a talk by Ms Zelia Fernandes, Coordinator of the Timor-Leste Media Development Centre, titled “The role of Timorese women in gaining Independence and rebuilding the country”, and a presentation by the musician Roslyn Dunlop on the traditional music and arts of Timor-Leste. Roslyn Dunlop will join Ego Lemos in presenting a program of Timorese music at the Cultural Evening on Saturday.

Another highlight of the program will be a screening of the film Heru ini Lafu: Weaving Life, presented by Sophie Miller, co-founder of East Timor Women Australia, which supports women’s weaving cooperatives in the Lautem district of Timor-Leste. And Richard Jones, a teacher and filmmaker who works part-time as a volunteer adult education teacher in Timor-Leste, will present “Open Your Eyes, See and Hear Us”, a photo-storytelling project with young Timorese women.

The Study School participants will stay at UNE’s Earle Page College, and all the presentations will be in the University’s Wright Centre. During the formal dinner at Earle Page College the Vice-Chancellor of UNE, Professor Jim Barber, will welcome the delegates to the University, and the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Jim Maher, will welcome them to Armidale.

The annual CWA Study School at UNE, organised by the UNE Conference Company, is an expression of the long-standing relationship between the University and the Country Women’s Association of NSW. Sharon Gallen, Manager of the Conference Company, said that she was particularly happy with this year’s program, which reflected the CWA’s interest in active support for developing countries.