Pittwater Friends of Soibada Incorporated was officially formed in 2010 when a friendship agreement was signed between the local governments of both Pittwater and Soibada. The Pittwater Community’s commitment to assisting Timor Leste began many years earlier in September 1999 during the deployment of INTERFET. It became formalised in 2008 when students at Maria Regina Primary School in Avalon requested to be linked in a friendship arrangement with a school in Timor Leste. Then Consul General, now Ambassador, Abel Guterres, assisted in establishing the partnership with Soibada. Pittwater Council and Pittwater Catholic Parish then requested to be part of the program. It now encompasses the broader community including; churches of all denominations, Rotary Clubs, The RSL, The Chamber of Commerce, Surfclubs and Sporting clubs, three nursing homes, the War Veterans Centre, the local Library, numerous schools and preschools, the University of NSW, numerous businesses, Medical Centres and more. In 2015 PFOS was given DGR Status in Australia
The agreement provides a basis for the people of Pittwater to assist those of Soibada to increase their health, well-being and capacity. We provide support for local projects and build skills that will contribute to the long term independence and sustainability of the community. The focus is education, sanitation, health and business development. All projects undertaken are requested and initiated by the community of Soibada. The Suco Chiefs and village leaders meet regularly with the team and are in weekly communication via social media.
Pittwater Friends of Soibada collaborate and partner with Timor Leste based agencies and fund them to run their programs in Soibada. This has worked well with Hiam Health, FKSH, Abut Timor, Alola and Mary McKillop Foundation.
The relationship between the two communities is one of mutual benefit. It has provided a focus to draw people of all walks of life together in Pittwater and engendered amazing community spirit. It has created a social outlet for many, particularly the school students and the older people (many in nursing homes). Pittwater community has gained much from the Timorese spirit and learnt the value of village living.
Key contacts in Soibada: Father Tiago, Dr Nidia Vong, Patricio da Cruz Quintao, Chief John in Tasi Fatin, the Sisters in the convent, all the school teachers.
Key contacts in Timor: Fidelio Amaral, lecturer UNTL; Benigno da Cruz,SEPFOPE, Tom Potter of Wild Timor Coffee, Manny Napoleon, World Expeditions.
Two from Soibada: Father Abel the former Parish Priest has visited twice. Father Tiago has visited once.
The Pittwater Friends of Soibada Team visit the village twice a year. There have been 11 visits to Soibada.
The Chairperson had one previous visit to Timor Leste in 1999.