Foto Friends Dili



First workshop at Gembel Art Collective, Dili

Meet foto friends from Santa Madalena de Canossa School  Dili, East Timor. Students are working with Anas, Kym and Gembel Art Collective to bring their stories to friends in Australia.


Foto Friendship is introduced to students from Santa Madalena de Canossa School Dili, East Timor

Built in 1997, during the Indonesian occupation, the school closed after the violence and destruction that followed the referendum to determine independence in 1999 and became a safe refuge for hundreds of the internally displaced population of Dili. The school reopened in 2001 and now has around 845 students. Foto Friends from Dili are preparing self portraits to introduce themselves to students from Cabramatta High school in Sydney.


April exhibition of Foto Friendship 2015 and launch of Foto Friendship 2016

Meet Tedy, Lya, Noi, Sofy, Ori, Nabila, Ninny, Feeby, Rafa, Rio, Joe, Bubba and Lara.



























Watch this space and follow our FB page for regular updates and images.


Foto stories

Another round of Foto Friendship is about to start. We will be sharing the details of new friends in Dili and in Sydney soon. Our facilitator in Dili will be Anastacio Madeira who participated in Foto Friendship in 2014 while still at high school.

Anas 1

“Foto Friendship helps us to connect with Australian students. We share our culture and get to know each other from the pictures and history that we write.” (Anas 2016)

We have had a request to share some complete six-part foto stories from Hato-Builico, so please meet Francisca and Celestino, through their own images and words.


02_Francisca_Our Horse



05_Francisca_My Father

06_Francisca_Self Portrait


01_Celestino_Self Portrait



04_Celestino_First Photo

05_Celestino_My Friend

06_Celestino_Keeping Warm

Foto Friendship, Dili 2016

We are happy to announce that an exhibition celebrating the work of friends in Hato-Builico and Australia is currently on display in Dili (until February 14).

banner 3

Xanana Gusmão Cultural Centre, Dili

Hato-Builico, 2016

Hato-Builico, 2016

But first Wendy travelled up to Hato-Builico to deliver stories created by foto friends from Cabramatta, Sydney and Winmalee in the Blue Mountains of NSW.

Father Gulimino and Celestino with Australian Foto Stories

Father Fernando and Celestino with Australian Foto Stories

Students exploring foto stories from Australia

Students exploring Foto Stories from Australia

Each student also received a copy of the Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters (BMETS) calendar featuring their work.



Celestino’s mother and sister receive his BMETS calendar

Celestino’s mother and sister receive his BMETS calendar

Four students: Alcina, Celestino, Joaninha and David then accompanied Wendy back down the mountain for the exhibition opening in Dili.

Alcina, Domingas, Joaninha, Anas, David, Victor and Celestino

Alcina, Domingas, Joaninha, Anas, David, Victor and Celestino

Thank you to everyone who has supported this project for the past two years: family, friends, colleagues and exhibition sponsors Western Sydney University and JMD Design.

Exhibition opening January 25th

Exhibition opening January 25th


Hato-Builico 2015

Hato-Builico 2015

In East Timor thank you to Father Fernando and staff from Eskola Secundária Católica Nain Feto Ramelau. Thank you to faciltators: Eva, Anas, Bety and Gaspar, to advisor and translator Lurdes and to Anita.

Friendship (Sandra, Cabramatta)

Friendship (Sandra, Cabramatta)

In Australia, thank you to Cabramatta and Winmalee High Schools for being part of this program, and especially to teachers Carol Paros, Julie Piesse, Voula Facas, Skye Wright and Cheryll Rushkin.

Animal Friends (Bec, Winmalee)

Animal Friends (Bec, Winmalee)

Most of all a huge THANK YOU to all the creative students who shared their lives with us.

Alcina red

“The Future: I will have a family but not as many children as my mother. I want to be a writer and to write about my village Hato-Builico so all the world knows about us.” (Alcina)

The Future of Foto Friendship

There is interest from both Australian schools and a new school in Dili to participate in another story exchange. The project is volunteer run but we are looking for support to cover costs in East Timor. Please contact Wendy or Tammy if you have any brilliant ideas!

Peace Day Celebrations


On November 13th Foto Friendship was proud to be part of Cabramatta High School’s Peace Day. This annual celebration of multiculturalism attended by students from 15 schools, brought together 60 cultures in a demonstration of culture, harmony and creativity.



Each year the school hosts the recipient of the Sydney Peace Prize. This year, humanist artist, activist and filmmaker George Gittoes was honoured for ‘his courage to witness and confront violence in the war zones of the world’ including East Timor and for ‘enlivening the creative spirit to promote tolerance, respect and peace with justice’.




In January 2016 Foto Friendship will exhibit a selection of images in East Timor. We are happy to report that The University of Western Sydney has come on board as an official sponsor for printing costs. We are still seeking funding to enable the students from Hato-Builico to come down from the mountains to attend the exhibition in Dili. Please contact Wendy or Tammy for more information if you can help in any way.

school photo

Foto Friendship 2016

Hello and a big thank you to those of you who are already supporters of Foto Friendship, East Timor and welcome to those of you who are new to the project.

Foto Friendship gives children in East Timor an opportunity to express themselves creatively through photography and to ‘meet’ children in Australia as they share the stories of their lives.

In March, 35 students from Eskola Secundária Católica Nain Feto Ramelau in Hato-Bulico created Foto Stories. For most it was the first time they had used a camera.

Back in Australia students from Cabramatta and Winmalee High Schools are now finishing off their own Foto Stories to send back.

Returning to East Timor in January 2016, Wendy Chandler will join local facilitator Bety Reis to head up the mountains to Hato-Builico and deliver  foto stories created by students from Australia. Wendy and Bety will then accompany students back down to Dili to see their Foto Stories presented at the Xanana Gusmão Cultural Centre.

Xanana Gusmão Cultural Centre

Xanana Gusmão Cultural Centre

The exhibition will take place in a complex that comprises the Xanana Gusmao Reading Room, its Museum and Library (the only public library in Dili). The centre also houses the new Headquarters of UNESCO, community Internet and Childrens’ activities,  the Le-Ziaval youth cultural group and a collection of official Prime Ministerial memorabilia including artwork by Xanana Gusmão created while imprisoned in Jakarta.

Foto Friendship is a voluntary project but salaries are paid to local facilitators, a translator and driver. We are also seeking funding for the students and one teacher to come to Dili for 3 nights to attend the exhibition. In addition we need to print 33 high quality images and hope to provide a simple photo booth so that visitors to the exhibition (many of whom will be school children) can create their own self portraits and become part of the project.



Imagine how it will feel for a young person from remote Hato-Builico to attend an exhibition of their work and life here in the nation’s capital, Dili.

Thank you for your interest and please support the project if you can!

Hello from Winmalee High School

Meet students from Winmalee High School…


To introduce themeselves these foto friends share some thoughts on what the project means to them. Please visit our Facebook page too!


The experience of being involved with another culture so different to my own is incredibly humbling and eye opening… (Laura)


Foto Friendship allows me to be in contact with people of my age group with different societal and cultural backgrounds. (Connor)









Foto Friendship is all about making a connection. The reason I am so excited about this project is because it will open my eyes to a completely different world (Hannah)


Foto Friendship allows me and my school to understand the lives of those in East Timor and how dramatically different they are. (Caleb)


Foto Friendship is a great way to connect with complete strangers… and to get to know someone with little words. (Bec)


Foto Friendship lets me see the world outside Australia… (Sarah)


Through photos I have almost been able to experience another culture. (Elizabeth)

Foto Friendship to me means knowledge. It allows me to see the lives of kids I would never have known through an incredibly interesting medium. (Sam)


Foto Friendship gives me a wider view of the world, get a glimpse of a different lifestyle and share photos documenting my life (Roma)


I like expressing myself and showing people my life through photos… Seeing the photos from East Timor has been a real eye-opener… (Kat)

Foto Friendship is a way to get an insight into how others see the world and also find out more about yourself from the response people have to your photos…


It’s important to understand how other people live compared to us as it helps us realise what we take for granted. (Brodie)


Foto Friendship gives me a sense of respect and a heart-felt feeling toward people with lives not as stable as ours. (Paris)


A photograph is so small yet says so much… (Olivia)

Laura grandfather

My Grandfather’s Birthday by Laura

Hello from Cabramatta High School

Australian school students have been introduced to new friends in Hato-Builico and are creating their own foto stories to send back .  Josephine writes about what Foto Friendship means to her:

Josephine  Lang copy

Josephine- Self Portrait

“Foto Friendship? What is it?  To me, Foto Friendship means making friends with kids in East Timor and telling them about our lives through photos.

 My name is Josephine and I’m currently a year 10 student. Foto Friendship is a program that was introduced to me when I was still in year 9 and I’m fortunate that until now, I’m still a part of it. Through Foto Friendship, I was able to see how the kids in East Timor lived, what they did in their free time as well as their religion and what’s important to them.

 It taught me things that I wasn’t able to learn at school, through friends or even my family, and that’s to not take things for granted. Here in Australia, everyone lives the way they want, often not thinking about others that are in need, but through Foto Friendship, we see that the children need to do chores, look after siblings starting from a young age and doing things that we usually don’t do, just to live.

 I feel that by being part of the Foto Friendship program, I get a lot more insight to the lives of children in East Timor and honestly, I really enjoyed the sharing of photos and finding out more about them.”


Book of Life- Josephine

To certain people, reading is only something they do in class, but to me reading and books are love. Reading allows me to escape from reality for a while and enter a world where not many people can go to. It also allows me to feel as if I’m experiencing and learning new things and the second I finish a book, it feels like a part of me is missing or I lost a best friend.

Secret Amongst the Rocks and Trees

Secret Amongst the Rocks and Trees- Josephine

The title might have given it away already, but there’s a rock where I always go to with that one certain friend. It is where I go when I’m stressed or upset. When I’m there, I usually tell that friend my secrets/thoughts or just things I don’t generally tell people.



Foto Friends at Cabramatta High

An introduction from students at Winmalee High in the Blue Mountains will follow shortly!


Update June 2015

photo 3

Gail presenting Hato-Builico public school with a montage of photos taken by the students

There is no postal service in Timor-Leste so thank you to members of the Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters who delivered photos by hand to two schools in Hato-Builico.

photo 1

Eskola Secundária Católica Nain Feto Ramelau

A big thank you also to everyone who visited our first exhibition and to all Foto Friendship supporters who made this project possible.

head on

Foto Friendship Exhibition May 2015

The next exhibition will take place later in the year in Dili at the Xanana Gusmão Cultural Centre. We are hoping students from Hato-Builico will be able to attend.

We are curently working with Cabramatta and Winmalee High School students so watch this space for more Foto Stories soon!


Supporter Rewards…

Thank you again to ALL our generous supporters and apologies that it is taking SO long to organise your rewards but rest assured we are onto it!

All supporters will soon receive an official thank you card. Those of you who were promised a print  please choose from the selection below and we will be in contact soon!

If anyone else is interested in buying a print (half of the monies raised will go towards the Hato-Builico High School building fund and half towards funding the next trip to Hato-Builico) please contact Tammy on 0431 531 100 for more information.

06_Faith_Francisca Maria Lobato de Araújo_web

Faith by Francisca

10_Market Day_António Ximenes Pacheco_web

Market Day by António

12_Our Kitchen_Joaninha Ximenes de Araújo_web

Our Kitchen by Joaninha

07_Family_Celestino de Araújo_web

My Family by Celestino

03_Big Family_Floriano Fernandes_web

Big Family by Floriano

14_Sisters_Celestino de Araújo_web

Sisters by Celestino

02_Best Friend_Carlito Sarmento Godinho_web

My Best Friend by Carlito


Cousins by João

01_Aunt's House_Madalena da Conceição Amaral_web

My Aunt’s House by Madalena

08_Family_Joaninha Ximenes de Araújo_web

My Family by Joaninha

04_Catholicism_João Alves Lopes_web

Catholicism by João

11_My Mother_Carlito Sarmento Godinho_web

My Mother by Carlito

13_Sacred House_Florinda da Silva_web

Sacred House by Florinda

09_Grandfathers_Orlando de Fátima_web

Grandfathers by Orlando

An Invitation!


Celestino de Araújo- My Family

Sydney-siders please join us for a glass of wine,  light refreshments and music at the opening of our first Foto Friendship showing. We are very excited to be part of a group exhibition (five photo collections) at the Leichardt Library and ACA as part of Head On.

Date: Monday 4th May

Time: 6.00 for 6.30 artist talks

Opening: Piazza G  (near the library)

The Italian Forum, 23 Norton St, Leichardt

Gallery website: Actors Centre Australia

We hope to see you there!

Tammy and Wendy