By LACHLAN MOORHEAD
A LOCAL community group are making sure people in Casey have a tree to put their presents under this Christmas.
The Friends of Ermera, a group formed in 2002 to help people from the district of Ermera in East Timor, have been delivering Christmas trees throughout December to a range of kindergartens, schools and markets in Casey.
The money raised will go towards teacher training in East Timor and the completion of a new kindergarten building in the mountainous town of Ermera Vila, as well as three additional classrooms in Fatubessi.
President of The Friends of Ermera, Jan Trezise said the group was happy to take over the tree delivery reins from Oxfam and hoped to build on the partnerships that had been formed through the initiative.
“We were very keen to take over the project because we felt it had worked for many years and we were also handed a lot of the existing contacts for the program, so it made it easier,” she said.
“We delivered 33 trees last Monday and we continued this week.”
Over last weekend the Friends of Ermera delivered trees to Gleneagles Secondary College and Arkoonah Park Market and next weekend will do the same at the Berwick Farmers Market.
The Friends of Ermera has been working in small teams to deliver the trees and has four cars and four trailer to transport them throughout the municipality. The group hopes to deliver 150 trees before Christmas.
Jan, who travels to East Timor at least once a year, said the group was always looking for ways to further support people in the district of Ermera.
“We are involved in sheer humanitarian aid and have always been sympathetic to the aims of East Timor,” she said.
“Over the years, since 2004, the need there is now more for capacity building.”
The City of Casey and Friends of Ermera have worked on a number of projects together, including teacher exchange and professional development programs, providing sewing machines to women’s groups and sending over second-hand soccer boots to be used by children.
Several local Casey schools and kindergartens also have friendship links with a school or kindergarten in Ermera.