In September, we celebrated alongside the small, rural community of Maumetalao in Timor-Leste as they inaugurated a new water system. The celebration was about easier access to water, yes. But it was about so much more than that. It was about all of the new opportunities that water access opens up. We’ve also supported the community with information sharing and advice and support from experts as families cultivated 25 farm plots and two communal gardens.
With all of this new infrastructure in place, the community was ready to explore new opportunities for earning an income. And it wasn’t long before one came along.
Representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture were also at the inauguration of the new irrigation system, joining the celebration for water access. They have partnered with CWS and Maumetalao for nearly two years. And they decided during the inauguration that Maumetalao would be an ideal spot to grow black pepper seedlings. These seedlings produce a valuable cash crop.
Now that people here have water access, they were willing to volunteer their own trees to support black pepper vines. And just like that, a new partnership formed.
The Ministry chose Hemen Gildo Gonsalves de Fatima to manage the new initiative. Hemen is a father of five who already works with CWS through our ongoing partnership. “We just added 14,300 plants to our greenhouse,” he said in October. Soon, the plants would be transferred to individual families. As Hemen noted, “This is a long-term investment that, along with water from the new tank, will help make the future a little brighter.”