On the Monday, Lena had organised with her contact* in APHEDA** to go for a drive out to the small districts to the west of Dili, where APHEDA had some projects going. We visited two carpenter’s workshops, a mechanic, a community centre, a restaurant-in-progress (foundations and roof laid), and also got to check out more awesome markets (I bought up again – oops).
Most of the things we saw are quite humble operations – think open shack, no vices, and homemade planing tool for the carpenter out of town. The one in Dili is still a partly open workshop, but it is much bigger and has better access to electricity. The mechanic didn’t even have a concrete floor to his little shack, but he was raking it in.
However the great thing about all of these is that APHEDA, through people like Elizabeth who understand what Timor needs, is working really hard to ensure that they are giving skills to people which they will be able to keep using. They don’t just throw money at people or put them in training and forget about them***. They really target their training, do follow up, help people design how their businesses will run, and so on, all with the target that they are leaving people with the skills to run a sustainable small or micro business.
- a fantastically on-the-ball woman called Elizabeth – Timorese – who, among other things, was a human rights investigator in Australia between 1999 and 2002.
- * APHEDA is the international union aid organization that Lena’s and my union, CPSU, is affiliated with.
- ** You’d be surprised how often this happens. Either that or I’m delightfully naïve.