Timor-Leste's weaving centres

East Timor Women Australia (ETWA) is a Melbourne based, not for profit organisation and run by volunteers. They provide and organise community oriented programs to support East Timorese women, particularly in the handcrafts industry. They aim to give women the opportunity to make real the benefits of sustainable handcrafts enterprises and, through the richness of weaving, help them maintain cultural integrity.

Three community weaving centres are proposed on 3 separate sites in remote villages on the eastern tip of the island of Timor Leste. Two centres will be located in the mountainous sub-district of Iliomar, in the villages of Fuat and Cainliu, and one in the flatlands of central Los Palos. The Architects for Peace probono team was first approached in April 2009. Debra Salvagno and Taryn Lane, representatives of ETWA, embarked on their annual weaving tour shortly afterwards and at the same time gathered site and land information for these building projects. ETWA is now in the process of drafting a design brief including a design information package with maps, site photos and information on local building technology and materials, for the future architect's reference.

A video clip showing how the women weaves can be viewed here.

ETWA has received support for materials from Rotary and is also working with the Alternative Technology Association to raise funds for solar panels in the three community weaving centres.

The draft design brief will be ready by October and we look forward to proceeding to the next stage of this fascinating project.

Our next step will be to advertise for pro bono service providers with expertise in sustainable building design. Although we are only at an early stage in the process, this is an exciting project that we hope will ultimately help to start a new chapter in the lives of the East Timorese women in these remote villages.

Queries of this project can be emailed to

photos courtesy : ETWA