In 2001, the City of Boroondara extended a hand of friendship to Same (pronounced sah-may) in the central mountain ranges of East Timor, which is home to more than 20,000 people. A group of local community members formed Friends of Same (FOS) to build this friendship.
In 2001 East Timor (officially known as Timor-Leste) was a new nation, having separated from Indonesia in 1999 via a democratic referendum. The democratic referendum was followed by violence, with Indonesian militia attacks on East Timorese people, and the destruction of many buildings including schools, hospitals, and other vital infrastructure.
During the period after the referendum a number local governments in Victoria began to contemplate ways in which they could help with the painstaking process of reconstruction and nation building.
These friendships were envisaged not only as a means of offering donated goods and other material assistance but also goodwill and community-to-community connection to a nation that was a longstanding friend. Many see this friendship going right back to East Timorese support for Australian soldiers fighting on their soil during World War II.
The City of Boroondara joined the Victorian Local Governance Association Friendship Program with Same and the district administration in 2003.
The Friends of Same today
The City of Boroondara remains committed to its friendship agreement with the Same sub-district government. Following the incorporation of FOS in November 2007, a Memorandum of Understanding was developed to outline the ongoing working relationship between Council and FOS in the implementation of the Friendship Program.
The City of Boroondara remains an important part of the Friends of Same with representatives on the Executive Committee of the Friends of Same Inc. The City of Boroondara recently approved the allocation of a three-year operational grant to support the administrative capacity of the FOS. This funding helps ensure that the money raised by Friends of Same goes directly to the places where it is needed.
The group has initiated and developed a number of projects to raise money and in-kind sponsorship to meet specific needs in Same, including education and training support for students, and rebuilding a school and refurbishing a facility for visually impaired young people. One fundraising project is the sale of East Timorese coffee through a growing number of retailers in Boroondara.
At a community level, many City of Boroondara residents have made connections with the Same region and have supported initiatives there.
The Friends of Same would love to hear from local people interested in supporting the group's projects, and no amount of time is too little.
Bi-monthly meetings are held on first Thursdays of the month at Hawthorn Community House and are open to all.
The district of Same is a major coffee growing area. The Friends of Same are distributing the coffee as a long-term fundraising activity to support East Timor.
The cost is $8 per pack, plus postage if applicable.
There are a number of outlets where you can purchase Friends of Same coffee, including the City of Boroondara customer service counters at Camberwell, Hawthorn and Kew. For details on the outlet closest to you go to the Friends of Same website.
If you are a retailer interested in stocking coffee, email Friends of Same.