asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
My dad has a friend--and now I have a friend--who co-owns a vineyard and winery--the Hudson Chatham winery. I was especially interested to get a look at it because I'd just copyedited a novella by Joyce Chng in which the protagonist inherits a vineyard. It was really cool to see the actual reality.

My big takeaway was that a vineyard is HARD WORK. Here is my friend pruning the vines in a cold time of year (she gave me permission to use the photo)

Here are those same grapevines this past weekend. Lush! The Hudson Chatham winery grows both white and red wine grapes, and many of the wines it makes are what are called estate wines--made totally from grapes grown on site. (This isn't true for a lot of small New York wineries, which make wine from grapes they buy in, and even the Hudson Chatham winery buys in some grapes so it can make certain sorts of wines, like Chardonnay.)

grape trellises

Here, up close, are some Seyval Blanc grapes, for white wine. They'll eventually turn a yellow color; they're about as big as the green table grapes you get in the supermarket.

Seyval Blanc grapes

Seyval Blanc grapes

And here, just beginning to get some color, are some Chelois grapes, used to make red wine. They're smaller, only slightly larger than the wild fox grapes you can see out in woods and fields.

Chelois grapes

photos of pressers, barrels, bottling machines, corking machines, and labels )

Last but not least, the wine on display in the tasting room!

wines on display

My friend invited me to come help out with the harvest this fall. I want to give it a try!

asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
I get emails from the East Timor Action Network, and today a really wonderful story came down the line, a story that, at present, doesn't have an online home. The author gave me permission to share it here: it's a story of women embracing nontraditional jobs in Timor-Leste. Having experienced firsthand how intermittent the water supply can be in Ainaro, I was moved and impressed that Diolinda wants to be in a position to help secure the water supply in her community.

The course she's taking is terribly important. Until now it hasn't been possible to get construction qualifications in Timor-Leste--the nation had to hire foreigners to do that work. Now, not only are Diolinda and her colleagues getting a great qualification and a chance to earn a good living, they're helping make the nation self-sufficient and strong.

Women Can Too
by Sarah Francis

Diolinda 2
photo by Sarah Francis

Meet Diolinda Ximenes, a 26-year-old who is leading the way for women to branch into non-traditional jobs in Timor-Leste.

“I’ve been studying Certificate 2 in Plumbing at Tibar Training Centre for two months ... I decided to study plumbing because I wanted to learn new skills ... I am married and have a five-year-old son. My husband stays at home in Manatuto and looks after our child.”

Diolinda is one of 457 students studying construction certificates in Timor-Leste. As part of the Mid-Level Skills Training Project, three training providers, namely Tibar Training Centre, Don Bosco-Comoro and DIT-Baucau, are being developed so that they have the capacity to offer construction courses in levels 3 and 4.

“I’m really enjoying this course,” says Diolinda. “I’m learning new things and developing skills in plumbing ... The teachers here at Tibar Training Centre are good. They share their knowledge with us and have good teaching methods. When we do practical exercises they demonstrate the tasks step-by-step so that we can learn from them.”

Until 2012 it wasn’t possible to gain formal nationally accredited construction qualifications in Timor-Leste. As such most of the construction jobs in Timor-Leste that require skilled workers are given to foreigners. This project aims to equip Timorese youth with skills that will lead to paid work, reduce Timor Leste’s high youth unemployment rate, and put local people in local jobs.

Read more... )

Text in Tetun )

Sarah Francis first came to Timor-Leste six years ago, and was so inspired by the people she met and their stories that she moved back in 2012. She has since worked in communications roles to promote programs that effectively engage Timorese young people, including the Mid-Level Skills Training Project and Action for Change Foundation
asakiyume: (Timor-Leste nia bandiera)
I've lived in the United States, England, and Japan--all countries that are well-off. I've never lived in, or even visited, a so-called developing country before. There are lots of different narratives about developing countries; what stories get told depend on the purposes of the teller--unsurprisingly. The hard facts of life in Timor-Leste didn't escape me--not just (just!) the trauma of recent conflict, but also the high infant mortality and food insecurity. But there was so much that I saw that was cheerful, vigorous, optimistic.

Twice a day there was a rush hour in Ainaro--foot-traffic rush hour, as kids streamed in to school. They were smiling, chatting with friends, looking sharp in their uniforms. Many of the teachers are unpaid local volunteers--now, you could see this as a problem (unqualified teachers), and yes, it would be good to have teachers who've been trained as teachers, but on the other hand, what dedication and sense of service that represents! And it seems to me quite likely that some of those volunteers are very good teachers.

Most people in Timor-Leste are subsistence farmers, but in Ainaro I also saw a carpenter's shop...

They're making a cabinet (frame on the left). The day before, they were making a bed frame.

carpenter's shop

... and next door to where I was staying was an auto repair shop, and up the street was a van out of which Timor Telecom operated--the women there are fluent in English and got me set up with enough pulsa that I could phone home.

And some women earn money weaving tais, traditional textiles whose patterns vary depending on the region. This woman told me she could weave my name into the one she was making (but I was leaving too soon).

a tais weaver

There was also the bakery, a couple of restaurants, and several copy and photo shops (these were popular with kids)--and these are just the things I happened to notice.

Here are some shops selling clothes

shops in Ainaro, Timor-Leste

Everything's just very labor-intensive, though. People were cutting the lawn across from the classroom with hand sickles, for instance.

As for play, I saw girls doing what we called Chinese jump rope when I was a kid, and everywhere little kids, boys and girls both, rolling tires with sticks:

playing with a tire and stick playing with a tire and stick

There are stone-lined water-runoff ditches along the roads, and I saw children playing in these too. One boy had a big palm stem that he was driving like a truck, making truck noises, along the edge of the gutter.

There's a football (soccer) pitch in the center of town, and in the late afternoon, I saw older boys and men playing on it. There's also a pool hall, and every evening someone's having a party--all the students talked about them. Several of the guys played the guitar, and several of the girls sing, and everyone seems to like dancing, including the newly ordained priest. Cockfighting is also popular--it goes on at the Saturday market (I saw the crowds gathered round, but didn't actually get up close to see the fight.)

Overall, people seem hopeful; they have plans, they're doing things. That's my narrative, anyway :-)

September 2017

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