Profile of: LO’UD Cooperative, Timor-Leste
Words by Emily Lush, Photos courtesy of East Timor Women Association
Working with three communities in Timor-Leste’s far-eastern district of Lautem, LO’UD Cooperative seeks to lift the burden of poverty by marketing naturally dyed, traditionally hand-woven tais textiles. Since 2007, LO’UD has partnered with the East Timor Women Association (ETWA), an Australian NGO working in Timor-Leste to support women’s empowerment through ethical trade. LO’UD was born out of Timor-Leste’s Resistance Movement and founded by three women, each the widow of a resistance fighter, who came together to pool their resources after the conflict ended. Their co-op naturally grew up around local women’s existing skills in making tais – a form of weaving unique to East Timor that is traditionally taught to girls from around the age of four. In post-conflict Timor, weaving is vital to healing past traumas and as a creative outlet. It can provide stable employment for women who face an uncertain future, including those widowed, orphaned or estranged from their families during wartime.
LO’UD now has 80 members working across three co-op groups in the villages of Lospalos, Cainliu and Fuat. Each village is geographically and culturally distinct, and weavers there produce unique tais. LO’UD offers its members marketing assistance and capacity building opportunities, as well as promoting the use of natural dyes. The Lospalos arm is LO’UD’s biggest group and is led by xefe (president) Marcelina Pinto. LO’UD’s small administrative team is headquartered from an office in Lospalos, where visitors can purchase cloth woven in the villages. All LO’UD members are homeworkers, dyeing and weaving on backstrap looms in their homes or yards. Excursions to meet the weavers can be organised through the LO’UD office in Lospalos. It’s advisable to contact ETWA via their website ahead of your visit. View the full article on The Kindcraft.