Fondation Hirondelle worked in Timor-Leste from 2001 to 2006, first setting up a radio program for refugees, "Moris Hamutuk" (“living together”), broadcast by the radio station of the United Nations Mission in Timor-Leste. Then, as of 2002, following a request by the head of the United Nations Interim Administration in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Fondation Hirondelle implemented a program to transform the UN radio into a public radio and television service for the country, which had just acquired its independence
In December 1999, Fondation Hirondelle submitted to the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNTAET) the idea of a radio station for refugees. Finally, in September 2001, UNTAET and Fondation Hirondelle agreed to launch on the UN radio one hour a day of programming specifically targeted at refugees. Fondation Hirondelle journalists were able to travel to the western part of the island, unlike the United Nations employees who were not allowed to do so.
This program was called "Moris Hamutuk", which in the national language Tetum means "living together". The program was also produced in Bahasa (Indonesian) and sometimes in more local dialects. It aimed to inform people in East Timor about what was happening to refugees on the other side of the island in West Timor -- among whom warlords were also living --, and also to inform the refugee population about what was happening in East Timor. The program employed six journalists from East Timor, an administrator, a technician, and interpreters. Three journalists from West Timor also worked part-time for the program, including reporting inside the camps. In order to broadcast as widely as possible on the island, Fondation Hirondelle also improved Radio UNTAET’s broadcasting system, in particular by installing a transmitter at the top of the Kutalaut mountain.
When UNTAET left Timor in spring 2002, Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the United Nations Interim Administration in East Timor from November 1999 to May 2002, proposed that Fondation Hirondelle lead UNTAET Radio’s transition to the future Radio Television of East Timor, the RTTL. Fondation Hirondelle agreed, and completed the project at the end of 2006. Funding was provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
When the United Nations left, Fondation Hirondelle took over management of the radio and television, which was gradually transformed into the national broadcaster. This involved helping to draft the public service law, training the managers of the new entity, developing the RTTL staff in the areas of journalism, program production, finance and administration. The studios were modernized. Fondation Hirondelle thus succeeded in transferring a United Nations media outlet to a national public service broadcaster.