Brendon Telfer, Station Manager of RPP FM local radio and Jenny Macaffer, Manager for Social Planning and Community Development at the Mornington Peninsula Shire extended a warm welcome to Thomas Lopes, a representative from the Lospalos district in Timor-Leste who visited the Peninsula and RPP FM studios last week as part of the Shire’s cultural and community development ‘Friendship Cities’ partnership project.
Thomas is being hosted in Melbourne by Many Hands International, a not-for-profit organization that is supporting community cultural development programs. Thomas is employed by Many Hands International through a partnership project in Lospalos.
This is Thomas’s first time out of Timor-Leste and he helped interpret when the Shire and Friends of Lospalos visited the district in the middle of the year.
The friendship between the Mornington Peninsula and the Lospalos district began when Timor-Leste former Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão, who married local girl Kirsty Sword, visited her hometown in Rosebud and found a similarity in topography and coastal habitat, aligning it closely to his home in Timor-Leste. He thought it would be great to start up a friendship initiative to include sharing of ideas, culture and tourism.
The idea was explored and the local Shire has committed to a friendship based on supporting the people of the Lospalos district, teaching and nurturing them, providing educational tools and sharing cultural ideas.
A group of selected VCE students from Rosebud Secondary College will travel to Lospalos in ‘schoolies week’ again this year to assist with a smoking prevention project Thomas wishes to implement to local communities.
Associate Dean, Professor John Toumbourou from Partnership and Workplace Office at Deakin University Australia is also hosting Thomas on this visit. Thomas is taking the opportunity to sharpen his English speaking skills at Deakin.
Brendon and RPP FM’s Production Manager, Steve Meyers were proud to show Thomas around the RPP FM studio including State-of-the-Art recording studios and facilities, production capabilities and share stories and ideas. Brendon added, “It’s important to continually build a supportive relationship between the ‘Friendship Cities’ project and for Thomas to take ideas and information back with him to his home town.”
The Lospalos district also has a local community radio station covering a large area with a listening audience of approx. 60,000. Thomas was a volunteer and now contributes largely to it’s mission to help his people through the work of Many Hands.
Thomas said, “Our community station is very important because the locals rely on the radio for news, information and community announcements.” He also commented that because many people do not have TV, radio is their only means of receiving information. The station also provides skill workshops and counselling for locals and Thomas, who is an accomplished harmonica player, has assisted in the running of Harmonica Workshops with the local Red Cross Youth group.
We wish Thomas the very best with his projects and vision for the people in the Lospalos district.
Words Debra Mar
Photography Rab Siddhi
Pictured: L-R: RPP FM Station Manger – Brendon Telfer, Social Planning and Community Development Officer – Jenny Macaffer, Thomas Lopes – representing the ‘Friendship Cities’ project and Associate Dean, Professor John Toumbourou from Partnership and Workplace Office at Deakin University Australia.
Insert: Thomas Lopes