Posted by Peter Russell on Nov 23, 2021
In 2021 the Northbridge Rotary Club donated $3,000 to the Nusa Tenggara Association (NTA), an Australian-based NGO which has been assisting poor farming communities in parts of eastern Indonesia. The money was allocated to women from 6 different weaving groups with the opportunity to earn a better income by producing diverse products with hand woven cloth on the eastern Indonesian island of Flores, one of more than 550 Islands of the Nusa Tenggara Province.
Flores is one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia, with an average income of less than a fifth of the national average. Twenty-seven percent of the population earns less than a dollar per day, malnutrition and stunted growth there are common and primary school enrolment remains low in this Covid-affected area.
The NTA, through its peak partner NTA Indonesia, is supported by over 250 people in Australia and other countries and is governed by an elected Board. It draws on small networks of people committed to working voluntarily on fund-raising, monitoring, liaising with project participants and sharing technical expertise. It is accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is a member of the Australian Council for International Development. This ensures it has systems and measures in place which meet Australian standards, including in the areas of fraud control, accountability to donors and child protection
Members of the Flores Island community sewing group pose with their new heavy-duty machines.
Luke Keighery
Director International Service
Rotary Club of Northbridge

The NTA has operated in eastern Indonesia for 30 years and its deep knowledge of local circumstances means project risk is low and outcomes are maximised. It uses a community self-help approach with a high level of participation by the beneficiaries on the planning, implementing and evaluation level; supplying training and tools to increase their income through traditional weaving - applying a tie dye and weaving technique called ‘Tenun Ikat’ - which can add substantially to a family’s income.
Most women in the Sikka regency of Flores are familiar with this extraordinary handicraft, producing textiles to wear on a daily basis, special occasions and for traditional gift-exchanges such as a weddings and funerals. In order to sell these textiles successfully, they either need access to the market outside their local community or have to produce something different to what is already on the market.
According to Stephanie Heighes – the NTA Operations Manager, the Rotary Club of Northbridge’s $3000 donation was used to provide 3-day-training classes for 14 women in product diversification (using their own hand-woven cloth) and 5 heavy duty sewing machines for participating weaving groups, enabling them to apply the learnt techniques and increase their income.
“Covid-19 made it impossible for the Australian Team to join the biannual monitoring visit as it had for the previous 30 years,” said Stephanie.
“We hope some members of the Rotary Club of Northbridge will be able to join us during one of our field visits in the near future, when international travel is possible again. This will enable you to hear and see the direct impact of this generous donation.”