Atabae, Timor-Leste


Photographer: Lee Tan

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In the 1990s, Pedro Vieira was a student leader in the resistance movement fighting to free Timor-Leste, then known as East Timor, from Indonesian occupation. He learnt politics from books, his fellow students and sympathetic academics. The son of a local chief from the Fatuluku-speaking community in eastern Timor-Leste, in 2001, on the eve of the country’s formal declaration of independence, he became the head of education at Haburas Foundation, an environmental non-governmental organisation which he had helped found. Since then, Pedro has spent much time travelling across Timor-Leste. Wherever he goes, he sits down with village elders and craftspeople, listens to their stories and talks with them about the ways in which local cultures and their long-established ways of doing things can contribute to ecological sustainability.