These illustrations are for a series of books being produced for schools in East Timor. These 2 pictures are from a series of 3 readers that I'm doing about a little girl's first day at school...

The Indonesian Army occupied East Timor for 25 years, and during that time 200 000 people were killed - a third of the population. When the Indonesians were finally removed through a voting process organised by the UN in 1999, the Indonesian Army and Indonesian-backed militias burnt homes, buildings, villages and crops, killed animals and massacred people. 95% of the schools were destroyed. The infrastructure has been badly damaged and people live in dire poverty. The schools that still exist have little or no resources, and many children have never been to school or ever held a book.

This is not a political broadcast - just facts. I didn't know any of this when I agreed to get involved in this project, but now I'm really glad I did! Nice to be able to do something, however small. The books I'm working on are part of an initiative to produce a series of readers in Tetun, the local language, replacing lost resources and creating books that Timorese children can identify with. It's an initiative organised by The Mary McKillop Institute of East Timorese Studies. Elisabeth Bastian of the Stop Laughing This Is Serious gallery in NSW Australia organises the illustrators. (Go, Elisabeth!)

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