Woven Tais cloth is part of Timor-Leste's cultural heritage. All women in Timor know how to spin and weave. It's handed down from generation to generation and master weavers in each village teach the dying process. Tais are also a critical source of income for Timorese women.
The Alola Foundation has a wide range of programs supporting women and children in Timor-Leste. Alola's Handicraft Development Project to increase women's economic opportunity and preserve culture is achieving wonderful outcomes.
Alola provides cottonseed, which the women grow, harvest and spin before dying it and weaving it into a traditional Timor-Leste Tais. Natural dyes derived from plants are favoured and the colours chosen vary by District. The weaving is mostly done by hand using a back strap loom. Motif designs on Tais are indigenous to each district of Timor.
Alola's programs also support women weavers via the Alola Esperansa production centre which buys woven pieces from individual women to make other products. Those products are then sold to the public at the Alola Esperansa shop.
Timor-Leste achieved independence in 2002. In 2016 poverty remains high. The World Bank estimates that about 41 per cent of the population lives below the national poverty line of $0.88 per person per day. Buying Tais through trusted groups such as Alola is Pacific Artisan's contribution to improving the lives of women and their children in Timor-Leste.