Friends of Vemasse

This community group provides fundraising and support for the people of Vemasse, Timor-Leste.

Cr Josh Fergeus is Council's liaison with this group.


Council's support of the Monash Friends of Vemasse is an adjunct to the formal Friendship Agreement the Council has signed with the people of Vemasse. Timor Leste is the poorest country in our region and one of the world's poorest. Vemasse is a sub-district of the District of Baucau and consists of seven villages and 24 hamlets.

Nearly 400 years of neglect and suppression during the Portuguese colonial period was followed by the brief but brutal Indonesian occupation until the referendum of 1999. When Indonesians were forced to leave, they took what they could with them and destroyed what they couldn't. 

At independence on 20 May 2002, most East Timorese people were living on less than $1 a day. Malnutrition rates continue to be highest in the world, with 46 per cent of children under 5 suffering from chronic malnutrition. Many households experience annual food shortages, largely due to poor agricultural productivity and insufficient output to last the whole year. Climate variability worsens shortages and severely impacts household food security.

The major aim of the group is to develop a long-term relationship with people in Vemasse and to improve education opportunities for the children of Vemasse. 

Friendship Agreement - Vemasse and Monash

In December 2008, Monash City Council agreed to form a Friendship Agreement with the Sub-District of Vemasse.

This was signed by both parties in May 2009.

What are we doing?

In the early days of Monash Friends of Vemasse, a local committee was formed under the auspices of the sub-district administrator, key personnel in the education sector in Vemasse and respected members of the community.

Now, there is direct communication with committee members through smartphones and social media. The establishment of a registered community credit and savings co-operative has facilitated the transfer of funds to schools supported in Vemasse, with the co-operative also providing accountability for money sent. 

Project Support - Schools

Education of young people in Vemasse continues to be a priority for the community. Although the Timorese Government is providing more support to secondary education, there are still volunteer teachers for essential subjects like science and maths.

Monash Friends of Vemasse is supporting four volunteer teachers, and providing scholarships for four students to attend senior secondary school in collaboration with the Lions Club of Wheelers Hill. We are also supplying computers, writing materials, stationery, sports equipment and school furniture, depending on need. Rotary graciously ships these goods for us. 

How can you help?

Become a Friend of Vemasse:

  • $20 per annum
  • Make a donation
  • Register to receive information on the group's activities
  • Offer your help at future fundraising events
  • Volunteer your skills that may be of use here and in Vemasse


Call Gillian Lang (President) on 9802 7766 or Heather Spurling (Secretary) on 9807 2714