Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA took 12 members to Timor Leste for a week in August to visit its projects and meet with union leaders, women and farmers who are organising for change.
Participants met with women from the APHEDA-supported Working Women’s Centre, who work with domestic workers to improve their working rights. They recently won a significant victory in their campaign to establish a national minimum wage for domestic workers, by gaining support from the newly elected government, which has pledged to promptly pass the legislation.
The group visited several APHEDA-supported farming projects outside of Dili. They met farmers who are addressing the challenges of an insecure food system, climate change and the high cost of importing food by organising themselves into unions and food cooperatives.
The group also met coffee growers who are creating links with Earthworker Cooperative to sell their coffee to Australians for a fair price.
The farmers from Uniaun Agrikultores Ermera-UNAER explained to participants how they educate farmers about modern farming practices as well as politics and economics. They spoke about their campaign for land reform to improve access to food for all Timorese people.
The group also had an opportunity to meet with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao at Government Palace. He spoke about how, during their long struggle for independence, the solidarity demonstrated by people in Australia gave the Timorese people confidence to keep going. He added that Timor now does the same in return by showing solidarity with other countries.