Inside Story


An Inside Story from Alola's "Mid" Fair, July 2019.

(Alolamedia / FransiskusXS) Alola Foundation is committed to facilitating target groups to be able to participate more in economic activities in various ways, one of which is facilitating the market. The annual Alola fair is a real solution to the obstacles faced by groups of craftswomen/men to sell their products.

For 2019, from Saturday to Sunday, 6-7 July, Alola, through a program to strengthen the economy of women, once again held the Alola "Mid Year" Fair. As a regular event, the Alola exhibition is again concentrated in the Alola Foundation Office and is attended by more than 50 craft groups. They showcased their latest works and sold other handicraft products such as tais - Timorese specialties, local pottery crafts, toys from Atauro, various forms of sculptures, accessories, natural soaps, traditional medicines, coffee and local food.

"We invited craft groups from all municipalities to participate in this exhibition, but only 53 groups participated in exhibiting and selling their products," said one of the Managers from the Alola Foundation for the Women's Economic Empowerment program, José Ximenes at the Alola Office.

The Alola Annual Exhibition held for the 12th was officially opened by the Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Peter Roberts who was accompanied by representatives from Rotary - Club of Kew, representatives of Rotary 9550 and representatives from Rotary Dili.

Alola Executive Director Alzira Reis during the opening session expressed her gratitude for the commitment of donors who have provided support for the implementation of various programs including one of the Alola Annual Exhibitions.

"The success that we achieved will not be realized if there is no support from partners or donors such as Rotary who support this two-day exhibition, therefore, I thank Rotary for giving its commitment to support Alola Fair," said director Alola.

Alzira Reis also stated that the Rotary Club of Kew-Australia not only provided financial support for the Alola Fair but also for the Alola Foundation program for women's economic empowerment.

The Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, Peter Roberts as representative of the Australian community in Timor-Leste acknowledges the commitment of Rotary Australia to its support for the people of Timor-Leste. He explained that the role of Rotary Australia was very important to strengthen relations between the people of Australia and the people of Timor-Leste.

"As an Australian Ambassador, I am proud of the relationship between the people of Australia and the people of Timor-Leste, I always see many groups from Australia, groups from churches, groups from various schools, and various Australian Rotary Groups working in many parts of Timor-Leste and is committed to supporting the people of Timor-Leste ", explained Peter Roberts.

As a representative of the Australian Government for Timor-Leste, Peter Roberts is very pleased to be able to participate and has the opportunity to officially open the Alola 2019 exhibition. In his message, the Australian Ambassador asked all parties to support local products, especially local products representing Timor-Leste.

"This event is to support the culture of Timor-Leste, the future of Timor-Leste, because it is important to support local products, support unique products and products that represent Timor-Leste", he said.

Previously, the Alola Foundation held a two-year craft exhibition focused before Easter and Christmas, but after making a long observation, in 2018, Alola decided to implement a new strategy for the continuity of this annual exhibition, focusing more on Alola Mid Fair and Alola Natal. The Alola Fair in the Easter period was transformed into the Alola 'MID "Fair held between June and July.

"Because we see that during the Alola Easter Exhibition, the visitors who came were not so many that we decided to make an exhibition in mid-year in hopes of attracting more visitors, especially tourists," said Alzira Reis, Director of the Alola-Foundation in Alola Office.

As the leader of the Alola Foundation, much hope with the holding of this two-day exhibition not only can strengthen the family economy, but also can provide support for the development of this camera in the future. During the opening, She expressed her hope for the Australian Ambassador who attended the exhibition.

"We hope that in the future our activities can get support from the Australian Embassy, this is our dream," said the Executive Director.

Until the end of this exhibition, more than 2,000 people were recorded as having visited Alola Mid Fair 2019. Foreign tourists, both individuals, families or groups also used this opportunity to see first hand the unique crafts of the Timorese people and buy unique crafts directly from their crafts producers. Maria José da Fonseca Monteiro who is the Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion (SEII) was also interested in visiting this exhibition. During her visit, the Secretary of State also held direct discussions with several groups of craftswomen. She revealed that women's involvement in the economic sector would also strengthen family income.

"Support for women's groups does not have an impact on some people but has an impact on increasing income for families. We will continue to try to find strategies to continue to support this policy," She said.

The Secretary of State for Equality and Inclusion (SEII) also stated that the SEII through its politics sought to find ways to continue to provide markets for local crafts, working together with other government institutions.

Milena dos Santos, coordinator of the craftswomen group from Atu-Aben Village, municipality of Bobonaro was very pleased with the results She had felt while participating in the Alola exhibition.

As a craft group that focuses on textile products, it was revealed that many people who visited the booth and bought tais cloth offered.

"From the two exhibition days, we were happy with the results we got, many people visited to buy our products" said Milena dos Santos. She also added that from the tais sale, the group received a total of USD 1527.

"Therefore, as a target group of the Alola program, I would like to thank the Alola Foundation for always organizing craft exhibitions," Milena said.

Meanwhile, Manager for the Women's Economic Empowerment program, Jose Ximenes, when met at his workplace explained that the income received by 53 groups of craftsgroups for 2 of the exhibitions was highly dependent on the quality of the products they sold and the tastes of the buyers.

Observations from the Alolamedia team at the exhibition took place, noting that several groups of artisans had demonstrated their ability to produce high-quality handicraft products and accommodate market tastes. Alola's manager also reported that the total income collected by 53 groups during the 2-day exhibition was USD 11,233.75.

"Revenues collected during the exhibition totaled USD 11,233.75, and from 53 participating craft groups, the women's group from Atu-Abe village, municipality of Bobonaro became the group that received the largest income, USD 1,527", said Manager Alola.

Maintaining product quality and diversification is one of the problems during the development of handicrafts in Timor-Leste. Therefore the Executive Director of the Alola Foundation, Alzira Reis, asked craft producers to continue efforts to improve product quality.

"In order to respond to market tastes, the production produced requires an increase in product quality and diversification", one recommendation from Director Alola.

On the other hand, representatives from Rotary, City of Kew, Jill Forsyth were very appreciative and grateful for the efforts of the craft producers for their commitment because they were heroes of the Legacy of Timor-Leste.

The development of the craft sector is one of the main fields of the women's economic strengthening program - Alola. During the period of 2018, the program focused on strengthening the capacity of women in rural areas through training, providing opportunities for market access with the aim of increasing income and preserving Timor-Leste's cultural identity. As a result, the participation of rural women to participate in small businesses has increased and automatically has an impact on increasing an impact on increasing family income.

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