Governance is a primary focus for the Friendship Program, aimed at establishing and improving administrative practices at a local level. Local government assistance is particularly relevant in this context.
Same has 23 primary schools, four junior high schools and two senior high schools.
There is a lack of equipment, furniture, and teaching aids, sporting facilities and equipment and other elementary resources. Schools have very few educational display materials, and very limited teaching materials
Some schools in Boroondara are connecting with schools in the Same sub-district to foster closer community to community links and to encourage students to develop a better understanding and friendship with a near neighbour.
There is a need for training at post secondary level in trades, information technology, business and accountancy skills, and for primary teacher training and support.
Health and welfare
Same has a 10 bed in-patient facility plus health outposts providing primary care, maternal and child care consultations, health education and an immunisation program.
Training and support for health care professionals is a general need to improve health care. Poor nutrition underlies many health problems in rural areas, with East Timor experiencing food shortages each year during the 'hungry season'. This generally affects Same itself less than other outlying areas.
Problems with sanitation and water purity are specific problems, which need to be addressed. The Same sub-district has a relatively plentiful supply of water through rivers and creeks but problems with access to water and maintenance of water quality.
Women and children are considered a particular priority; there are many widows following the years of resistance and militia violence. The women have little economic independence.
Family stress following the long period of trauma and difficult economic circumstances is also an issue.
Limited electricity supply has been restored but most homes do not access to electricity for lighting or heating. Provision of alternative sources of renewable energy are important for improving quality of life, particularly due to the health impacts of cooking over open fires in confined spaces.
Opportunities and outlets for the youth of Same are a common concern with high unemployment and lack of training. The town of Same has a community centre, in need of refurbishment, where youth groups meet. There are also limited sporting facilities and equipment catering for sports such as volleyball, soccer, badminton and basketball.
Subsistence agriculture is a primary activity for the district with crops including rice, maize, coffee, corn, beans and vegetables
Friends of Same have been very active in helping to establish a market outlet for coffee, East Timor's primary export commodity. Same is a major coffee growing area.
Coffee was planted during the days of Portuguese rule, and grows throughout the hills area. The coffee, exclusively arabica beans, is organically grown; there is little formal cultivation with no use of chemicals or pesticides. Prior to Independence, little of East Timor's coffee was available to the Australian market. A long-term strategy of developing and maintaining a market for East Timor coffee enhances economic independence, helping to provide a guaranteed return for coffee farmers.
The Government of Timor-Leste aims to increase agricultural output, in order to improve nutrition, achieve self-sufficiency as well as to generating a surplus for commercial purposes. Programs to assist with developing more sustainable methods of agriculture (a traditional slash and burn approach adopted during the Indonesian occupation) are being conducted in other parts of East Timor which may be able to be adapted to Same. Environmental degradation is a common problem throughout much of East Timor. Alternative crops are also being explored.
Like most of East Timor, Same faces considerable difficulties with communications, exacerbated by the rough state of most roads and its location in the mountains, some distance from Dili. There is no regular postal service and an intermittent electrical supply, which limits communication via the internet. The mobile telephone service is expensive and unaffordable for many Timorese, even those on reasonable incomes, although prices are coming down. The internet has only been available for a year or so. Basic communications need to be addressed as a priority to enable a free flow of information, as well as direct contact with the outside world.
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