Friends of Venilale (FoV)
Friends of Venilale is a sub-committee of Mansfield Shire Council which maintains a reciprocal relationship with Venilale (pronounced vennee-LAH-lay) in Timor-Leste. Who we are:
The sub-committee is made up of people from Mansfield and district, with administrative support from the shire. When we meet:
All interested people are welcome to attend our meetings, which are held on the first Monday of the month in the Shire Chambers at 6 pm. How to join:
To put your name on our mailing list and receive newsletters and information, contact email@example.com
or phone 03 5775 8555.
Venilale is in the high country in the east of Timor-Leste. Like Mansfield, Venilale is both a town and a local government area. Its population is about 16,000. Besides the main township of Venilale there are eight groups of villages or sucos (pronounced SOO-koze).
The economy of the area is mostly rural, based on rice grown in terraced fields worked by water buffalo, or in some cases by rotary hoes. Most people are subsistence farmers and they face many obstacles: low crop yields, lack of access to clean water, poor infrastructure and inadequate market access as well as low literacy and education levels.
Mansfield and Venilale signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a Friendship Relationship in May 2005. FoV supports a community development officer in Venilale through Australian Volunteers International.
In October 2003 Mansfield Secondary College was the first Australian school to be paired with an East Timorese school in the Friendship Schools Project. This link has been maintained although the official project ceased in 2008.
Bercoli State Junior High School is located at Bercoli, several kilometres from Venilale. The students at Mansfield and Bercoli have exchanged letters and photos, and student fundraising has enabled Mansfield SC to donate sporting and arts equipment, stationery and books as well as computer hardware and instruction.
Groups from Mansfield, dubbed the Venilale Venturers, visited Timor-Leste in April and October 2009 and in April 2010.
To find out about visiting Venilale, contact http://venilale.com
Mansfield has hosted teachers and local government officials from Venilale for study placements and cultural exchange, and various individuals from Mansfield have visited Venilale. Funding
Mansfield Shire, under its Small Towns Scheme, provides an annual grant of $2000 to FoV to assist the development of local government in Venilale.
FoV raises funds by selling Venilale handicrafts and East Timorese coffee through the Made in Mansfield cooperative shop and at Mansfield bush markets. This money is used to fund projects and buy equipment and supplies requested by the Venilale community.
From time to time FoV organises fundraising events such as dinners and film shows, and Mansfield Secondary College raises funds to support its Friendship School.
Visiting Venilale www.easttimortravelvenilale.org.au
A trip to Venilale, 2009 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YwBwWq4OGVw
Australian Local Government Association http://www.alga.asn.au/policy/international/04.eastTimor.php
Victorian Local Governance Association http://www.vlga.org.au/Projects___Campaigns/Timor_Leste.aspx
The Friendship Manual: a manual for Timor-Australia Friendship Agreements http://www.comraded.org/timor