Subject: Friendship link forged across the sea

Also: East Timor; first lady; visits city

Berwick Pakenham Leader (Australia)

April 9, 2003 Wednesday

Friendship link forged across the sea

A LINK of friendship was forged across the sea last week, when Casey made its relationship with the town of Ermera, East Timor, official.

The council last week voted to cement the Friendship City arrangement with a memorandum of understanding, prepared with input from the Friends of Ermera group.

The move was proposed by Cr Rob Wilson, who said Casey had one of the highest percentages of East Timor refugees in Melbourne.

Friends of Ermera member Jan Trezise said she was delighted by the move.

"I went to East Timor last year to find out what's needed, and the best was to describe it is that the country has suffered almost total destruction."

"About 80 per cent of the buildings and 90 per cent of the schools were destroyed, as were power and water supplies.

"Even now there's power in the Ermera region for only about four hours a day, and a ratio of two doctors for about 90,000 people."

She said the group was co-ordinating fundraising efforts to rebuild preschools and schools, collect education materials, typewriters, medical supplies, furniture, fabrics and sewing materials.

"The recent fundraising dinner with Jose Ramos Horta raised $13,000, $9000 of which will go to rebuild a school in Hatolia, and $4000 for a Gleno school," she said.

April 9, 2003 Wednesday

East Timor; first lady; visits city

By Jeannette Langan

EAST Timorese First Lady Kirsty Sword- Gusmao visited Casey last week to launch a public appeal for the city's newest friendship city, Ermera, East Timor.

Melbourne-born Mrs Sword-Gusmao said the appeal would raise funds for a shelter for women recovering from the ravages of war.

Friends of Ermera group member Jan Trezise said Mrs Sword-Gusmao had asked the friends group to help the shelter.

"It provides accommodation and training for women who have been physically and sexually abused while in the pro-Indonesian militia-controlled camps of West Timor, " she said.

"We are thrilled and privileged to have Kirsty Sword-Gusmao as guest speaker.

"She met her husband Xanana while he was in prison in Jakarta and supported his work as resistance leader over many years prior to his release. She is an inspirational speaker. "

Ms Trezise said as part of the appeal, donors would receive beautiful greeting cards featuring the weavings created by the women of East Timor in return for their donations.

"We are asking people to take the cards on consignment all we need is for 4000 people to donate $5 each and we'll have the $20,000 the shelter needs."

City of Casey Mayoress Susan Oates encouraged the community to support the appeal for such a worthy cause.

"Many women were pregnant when the came to the Ermera shelter, so any support towards this initiative will help make the future of them and their children more optimistic," she said.

"This appeal is a great way to support one of Australia's closest Asian neighbours in its time of need," she added.

To donate to the appeal phone Jan Trezise on 9700 7737, or Noeline Shields on 9707 0305.

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