A little while ago the Cooking Circles team put on a fundraiser for Timorese NGO the Alola Foundation. As regular blog readers will know, we were just a bit excited about this event for a bunch of very good reasons!
First of all it was a welcome challenge for an event of this size to be organised by our small team, more used to intimate in-home dinners than a community-wide fundraiser. We spread the word and brought our nearest and dearest, laid out plates of home cooking and reigned in the help of our kids to greet guests. We were blessed to be joined by Her Excellency Kirsty Sword Gusmao, who was visiting Canberra to be awarded the Order of Australia medal. Kirsty spoke warmly about the country that has been her home for 15 years, and in particular the women and girls she has worked with and was compelled to support in the early years as Timor emerged from it’s brutal separation from Indonesia.
Ana Guterres is a Timorese woman who comes from Bacau. She has lived in Australia for a few years now due to the work of her husband, Ambassador Abel Guterres. Ana stood and told stories of her childhood and teen years in Bacau as the country struggled for Independence. Coming from a large family and tragically losing her mother at a young age, Ana became the protector of her younger siblings and supported her Dad in running his local restaurant. Ana’s speech moved us all to tears. She is heroic and resilient. Ana is sweet and she is beautiful inside and out. And Ana has the heart of a lion – she is fierce, determined and a fighter at heart.
The fundraiser was a raging success thanks to the generous support of women and men from Canberra, Sydney, Victoria and Tasmania and the money raised goes directly to Alola to continue their work with women and families throughout Timor Leste. The prescence of Kirsty and Ana was surreal and special for it meant that people left that night feeling a stronger sense of what Timor Leste is about.
Thank you to all who attended this wonderful night and for opening your hearts.