I arrive at the exhibition to hear a talk by Sr Susan Connelly, political activist for the Independence of East Timor. The room was resplendent with colourful woven cloth, the traditional Tais woven on backstrap looms by women in East Timor - a small island 400kms north of Australia.
I knew of the struggle many East Timorese women faced during the plight of the most recent 24year Indonesian invasion, and to hear of the recent violence and the refugee status of women in poverty plucked deep into my heart-strings. Seeing the incredible talent, resilience and hope for the future not only of these two East Timorese women who attended the exhibition, but that of an entire nation of women to rebuild their lives, confirmed in me that there must be a way I could help .. in a small way, to be a vehicle for generating an income so they can have food, medicine & education. After all, I do have education, I don't live in a third world country, I have privilege and I must feel empowered enough by those standards to be in a situation to help women who are not in my situation. I recalled a conversation I had with a friend 3 months ago of how I longed to be involved with helping preserve handcraft traditions from a cultural context, but not yet knowing where, when, how.. & I knew this was possibly a way of achieving that desire.
I soon fell into a conversation with an Australian lady who lives in East Timor, and it came to light she heads a not-for-profit organisation who employs Timorese women from a variety of districts to weave Tais. Some of the Tais are sewn into bags, wall hangings, and other products in her women's sewing workshop.. I suddenly found myself at the back of her car viewing beautiful, high-quality products sewn from Tais, priced & ready to be sold..
And, today (Sat 24th Nov), I held my first market stall peddling Fair Trade traditional Tais handwoven cloth products at our school Spring Fair! Needless to say, I had a great day, sharing the stories of the women & this handwoven cloth..
who knows what lies around the corner now!
L - tais bag holder; Arly's doll Rosie modelling Tais Feto (female dress) & Selandang sash; R - Tais Mane (male sarong) bought in 2000 by my Mr whilst filming a doco for Year of Independence.Isn't LIFE Amazing! Keep dreaming your dreams, & let life take care of the details toward making them happen.
I will leave you with a shared wisdom a dear friend & mentor once told me, and it never fails:
what you focus on is what you get
every time *-*