Friends of Ossu, Timor-Leste
Friends of Ossu is an all-volunteer community group based in the City of Willoughby, 8 kilometres north of the Sydney CBD. Friends of Ossu was formed 10 years ago to foster friendship, support and cross-cultural exchange at a grassroots level with the people of Ossu, Timor-Leste. It is one of nearly 40 Timorese friendship groups around Australia.
Timor-Leste is one of our closest neighbours; it is less than 500km from Australia and a 1-hour flight from Darwin. Ossu is a remote mountain village of 6,000 people approximately 150km from the capital of Dili – a 6-hour drive on poor roads.
Safe and high-quality water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are fundamental to preventing and controlling infection and living healthy happy lives. We take it for granted, but every day in the developing world people suffer due to the absence of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene.
Access to clean water is difficult. Women and children spend several hours fetching water daily. Unhealthy behaviours such as lack of hand washing, unhygienic preparation of food, and unsafe water storage are blocking aspirations to advance out of poverty to a better healthier lifestyle.
Our WASH Project was initiated and is sponsored and funded by Friends of Ossu. It is critical to achieving a substantial improvement to the quality and longevity of the lives of people in Ossu and they are enthusiastic about the project. Meeting with Friends of Ossu representatives in early 2017, the District and Sub-District Administrators (Ministry of State) and Ossu community leaders in health and education unanimously approved the project.
For this project, Friends of Ossu are in alliance with WaterAid Australia whose mission is to transform the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people by improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. This is a comprehensive WASH project with all designs, inspections and acquittals carried out by WaterAid.
At a cost of US$39,500, work on Stage 1 (blue line below) began recently with money raised by Friends of Ossu. Stage 2 will commence in early 2018 subject to the availability of funds. The budgeted cost of Stages 2 & 3 is US$150,000.