APHEDA Partner Organisations collaborate with Disability Advocacy Group for COVID Prevention training in Timor Leste

Oct 29, 2020

In September 2020, Working Women’s Centre Timor Leste (WWCTL) collaborated with a regionally based Disability Support Organisation to deliver COVID-19 Prevention Training to 80 community members with disabilities in the district of Maliana. Collaborating with local organisations and NGO’s extends the reach of APHEDA partner organisations to support the most marginalised in the community and acknowledges the importance of inclusive practice to ensure everyone has the information and tools to protect themselves and their families.

APHEDA Partner Organisations Respond to COVID-19 in Timor Leste

To successfully combat the spread of COVID-19 in Timor Leste, the Government declared a State of Emergency with a national lockdown (including business, schools and churches) after its first positive case was identified in late March 2020. APHEDA partner organisations, unable to deliver their regular activities during lockdown, were given the option from the Australian Government’s Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) to divert existing project funding to COVID response activities.

APHEDA partner organisations in Timor Leste worked together with FONGTIL (the peak NGO body in Timor Leste) to identify the most urgent and vulnerable communities needing COVID Prevention support. Peak body led COVID Response teams were sent to rural and remote communities. Other high risk groups identified included marginalised and informal sector workers, particularly women and people with disabilities. 

Three APHEDA partner organisations – the Working Women’s Centre of Timor Leste (WWCTL), Institutu Edukasaun Popular (IEP) and Kdadalak Sulimultuk Institute (KSI) – were approved to use a portion of their existing funding to purchase materials and develop COVID Prevention workshops to support their member bases from June 2020.

Read more about WWCTL’s COVID-19 Response in our APHEDA People interview with Ricar Pasoela, Coordinator of the WWCTL.

Collaborating to confront COVID19 with local NGO’s

With the assistance of the APHEDA Dili Office, all five APHEDA project partner organisations in Timor Leste regularly collaborate with each other and other Timorese NGO’s to consolidate areas of expertise. They also work together on public events such as May Day which last year saw the largest, most diverse rally including high numbers of women, workers with disabilities and LGBTI participation. Capacity building training for APHEDA partner organisations in areas such as Gender & Disability Inclusiveness has also been supported by local NGO’s with specialised areas of expertise such as CAUCUS (Gender) and AHDMTL (Vision Impairment Support Organisation).

From April 2020, APHEDA partner organsations obtained travel permits allowing them to deliver COVID Prevention Training to remote and rural farming communities across multiple districts. APHEDA was also approached by local Disability Advocacy organisation, Association Halibur Defisiente Region Oeste (AHDRO) who explained their members – people living with disabilities in rural areas in the district of Maliana – had not received any information or socialisation about COVID-19 prevention activities from Civil Service Organisation or the local municipality leaders.

WWCTL and IEP Integrated COVID Response Training

The Working Women’s Centre of Timor Leste (WWCTL) has been delivering Workplace Rights Workshops (primarily to women) across multiple districts of Timor Leste since July 2019 as part of their Advocacy, Education, Organizing & Support for East Timor Domestic and Informal Workers project which receives funding through the Australian Government’s ANCP Program. Content of scheduled project training includes understanding the Timorese Labor Code, Workers’ Rights and Social Protections. This made WWCTL well-positioned to deliver rural training workshops, particularly to marginalised groups.

Combining WWCTL’s skills in regional workshop delivery and IEP’s successful COVID Prevention Training in other parts of the country, WWCTL and IEP worked with AHDRO to design and deliver COVID prevention training specifically for disabled members of the community in Maliana.

In September 2020, two workshops were delivered over consecutive days with both WWCTL and IEP taking the lead on various parts. The first workshop was held on a Loes farming community base in the District of Bobonaro and led by IEP with WWCTL observing. The following day the team travelled to Maliana where local NGO AHDRO had arranged with the district leadership to provide a venue and support for participants to attend.


High Turnout & New Partnerships

Although the initial estimate was approximately 50 participants, on the day over 80 people attended the Maliana workshop. Opportunities for training specifically targeting people with disabilities are rare in the districts and proved to be very popular. Training included general information on the risks of COVID 19 and protective measures such as teaching the participants how to make their own liquid soap and hand sanitiser. Feedback from course participants, local leaders and AHDRO was very positive.

The flexibility of APHEDA partner organisations in Timor Leste to rapidly divert their focus to the global pandemic response and ensure that all community members were supported at this time is testament to the close relationships these organisations have built across all districts of Timor Leste through their regular project work. Demonstrating their strong capacity to engage with local leaders, local NGOs and elected representative bodies (such as farmer’s unions UNAER & UNARCO), they have been integral to the highly successful COVID Response program in Timor Leste and increased the capacity to reach previously marginalised community members. 




The Working Women’s Centre of Timor Leste’s Advocacy, Education, Organizing & Support Program for East Timor Domestic Workers is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).


Women's Solidarity Across Borders

In Timor Leste, women workers are organising to build their collective power at work. By becoming a member of Union Aid Abroad – APHEDA, you will be supporting partner organisations like the Working Women’s Centre of Timor Leste that are campaigning and lobbying for stronger protections for workers. 

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