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In Photos: The Asia Foundation Marks 25 Years in Timor-Leste

June 14, 2017

By Susan Marx

Aerial view of Dili, with Asia Foundation 25 years logo.On June 9, The Asia Foundation marked its 25th anniversary in Timor-Leste with a special celebration, including dance and musical performances, a food and art fair, and special tributes by local and international dignitaries, including the Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste and the Commander for Community-Oriented Policing of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL). The event also featured video tributes by Foundation alumni including the Minister of State, Coordinator of State Administration Affairs and Justice, and Minister of State Administration, H.E. Dionísio da Costa Babo Soares.

Since 1992, when the Foundation began operations in Timor-Leste from its office in Jakarta, we have worked alongside partners in government, civil society, media, academia, and community groups to achieve the ambitious goals of the country. In 2000, we opened an office in Dili and began a dramatic expansion of our programs. Prior to both the constituent assembly elections in 2001 and the presidential elections in 2002, we supported national surveys of citizens’ knowledge and awareness of electoral issues in order to inform the design of relevant voter education materials, and then helped to organize and support voter education programs as well as independent poll monitoring to help ensure that the elections were free and fair. This important contribution was remembered fondly by the newly elected president, H.E. Francisco (Lú-Olo) Guterres, during a courtesy call with the Foundation’s executive vice president, country representatives, and a member of the Board of Trustees, to mark the occasion the day before.

Today, we continue to work alongside members of the parliament, courts, police, and other local and international institutions, with the continued support of a dedicated cadre of donors, to research and analyze the critical challenges facing human development in Timor-Leste, and design and implement feasible, impactful and sustainable programs in response. Together with our key partners, the Foundation has contributed for more than two decades to the justice and security sector, including a specific emphasis on community-oriented policing and eliminating violence against women. We also continuously support the government’s ambitious goals in governance and accountability through programs ranging from surveys, social audits, and key communications strategies on policy implementation.

Here’s a look back at the anniversary celebrations, as well as a special video commemorating 25 years in Timor-Leste. 

Staff, alumni, partners, donors, and guests assemble for a photograph commemorating The Asia Foundation’s 25th anniversary.

Staff prepare for the event by positioning canvases featuring local partner organizations.

This plastic bottle chandelier, designed by Foundation staff and Dili-based design company Uma Lulik Studio to mark the anniversary, draws attention to the environmental challenges facing the country. In a small island nation where recycling of plastic is practically non-existent, it repurposes 3,000 drinking water bottles to represents the potential impact of unnecessary waste.

A special exhibition of artwork at the Foundation’s office by local group KonsolidArte features artists Tony Amaral, Xisto Silva, and Ricardo Gritto.

His Excellency Peter Doyle, ambassador of Australia to Timor-Leste, speaks to guests and staff at the event.

PNTL Commander Antonio da Luz delivers remarks.

A staff choir performs with well-known Timorese singer-songwriter Ego Lemos, beneath a mural by local artists Tony Amaral and Xisto Silva. In the Timorese language of Tetum, the words read “Love is respect.” The mural was originally painted for International Women’s Day.

At a special meeting with Asia Foundation representatives, the president of Timor-Leste, Francisco Guterres “Lú-Olo” thanks The Asia Foundation (pictured above, country representative Susan Marx) for its 25-year commitment to Timor-Leste, remembering fondly his own interaction with the Foundation when a member of the Constituent Assembly shortly after independence. He also spoke of his dedication to important areas of the Foundation’s work, such as eliminating violence against women, promoting security and peace, and economic diversification including by boosting the tourism industry in Timor-Leste.

Susan Marx is The Asia Foundation’s country representative in Timor-Leste. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and not those of The Asia Foundation or its funders.

Related locations: Timor-Leste


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