Friends of Baucau Inc (FoB is an incorporated community organisation based in the Municipalities of Darebin and Yarra in Victoria, Australia. Our aim is to promote friendship links between the people in these cities and the communities of Baucau Municipality in Timor-Leste, and particularly the City of Baucau. Our Friendship Association is endorsed and variously supported by the Councils of Darebin and Yarra and both the National and Baucau Municipal Governments of Timor-Leste.
Friendship is about listening to each other with empathy; Putting yourself in the other’s shoes and looking for ways to be a companion on their journey. Friends celebrate together and support each other in hard times, sharing resources and nurturing abiding relationships. We are not friends if we are not learning and growing together.
We in Australia, are sometimes called upon to provide occasional financial support and arrange exchange visits. For this we engage in fundraising and community awareness activities in Victoria. Activities can be routine management related, advocacy and communication or special events. Advocacy and communication relate to activities carried out by the members to promote good relationships with other key stakeholders and the community by providing appropriate and useful information or other support services. Special events could be for fundraising or for community building/networking or for both. Our Coffee Stalls are both fundraising and community building activities.
Following his release from house-arrest in Jakarta, and on his way back to Timor-Leste in 1999, Xanana Gusmao visited Northcote and invited some members of the local Young Catholic Students (YCS) to spend Christmas with the orphans in Venilale and Laga, Baucau. Five young people and three adults, all residents of Northcote, took up the offer with the support of many people and institutions in Darebin. One of the aims of the visit was to ‘explore the building of a friendship relationship between the City of Darebin and the City of Baucau’. They carried with them an invitation from Mayor Chris Kelly to present the UNTAET District Administrator of Baucau. The Report of the visits notes: “The offer was greeted with genuine enthusiasm by all those spoken to…” and a range of ideas were proposed. One of the delegation was Annie Keogh who is currently on the Committee of Friends of Baucau.