Friends of Same is a community based not-for-profit group in the
City of Boroondara who support Same, a sub-district in
East Timor (Timor Leste).
Same (pronounced Sah-mey) township is the main administrative centre for the District of Manufahi.
There are approximately 25,000 people who live in the sub-district of Same which includes the main township of Same and several small villages these are located in mountainous countryside and on the coastal plains bordering the Timor Sea.
Same is situated in the central south of Timor Leste,
is located at the foot of sacred Kablaki Mountain
and is around four hours drive from the capital, Dili.
The majority of people speak Tetum,
the Timorese language.
Same Sub-District has a population of around 24,000, spread across four main towns and villages.
Same is the principal population and administrative centre in the District of Manufahi.
It is in an area of high rainfall and remnant rainforest but a cooler dry season (August to October) with temperatures dropping to as low as 5 degrees Celsius in Same.
The main language is Tetum, as well as a local dialect, Mambae, with Indonesian and Portuguese also spoken.
Most people of Same Sub-District are Catholic.
Same is famous in East Timor for the activities of one of its chiefs, Dom Boaventura, who waged a war against the Portuguese from 1895 to 1912. Known as the Great Rebellion of Manufahi, it was only quelled when the Portuguese brought in reinforcements from Mozambique. Locals claim a death toll of more than 10,000, with thousands taken prisoner. The rebellion led to East Timor being separated from the colony of Macau and being administered by a governor directly responsible to Lisbon.
During the years of Indonesian occupation, much of the rainforest of the district and town was systematically destroyed by the Indonesian military in their efforts to defeat the East Timorese resistance. Reprisals for resistance activity were also inflicted on some of the communities in this area.
Same was not spared from the militia violence associated with the 1999 Referendum for Independence, although its destruction was not as extensive as in some other areas. Still, there is widespread evidence of burnings of buildings and destroyed infrastructure.Since then, there has been a lot of reconstruction, particularly homes, schools and medical facilities. The market has been rebuilt and there are plans to renovate more areas.
Betano on the south coast has an important historical link with Australia, being a landing point for the resupply and reinforcement of Australian soldiers fighting a guerilla campaign against the Japanese during World War 2, with the help of and at great cost to the East Timorese. On 23 September 1942, the HMAS Voyager ran aground and was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The wreck still remains. Friends of Same has assisted in the collection and exhibtion of material about the commando history and the contribution of the East Timorese.