Our vision for our village
In a village called Sana-Nain, at the end of a remote dirt road in Manatuto district, ChildFund Timor-Leste recently spent five days listening to children and young people talk about their lives and experiences of poverty.
Sana-Nain is nestled high in the mountains, accessible only by a wide riverbed that becomes impassable after heavy rain. When anyone from the community has produce to sell or errands to run, they must walk kilometres down to the dry river bed, across and up to the nearest road. Sana-Nain’s remoteness means that basic services – like electricity and running water – are just now becoming available to the community.
ChildFund Timor-Leste and its community partner organisation Moris Foun (Tetun for “new life”) recently conducted a series of group exercises with children, youth and parents of infants in Sana-Nain. The exercises are designed to create a comfortable environment where children feel free to share what makes them sad, angry, scared and worried. Participants are split into groups by age and gender so they feel comfortable sharing their personal experiences.
By Friday morning, the tangible results of the activities were obvious – Sana-Nain’s open air village hall was draped with risk maps of the community and colourful sheets of paper. But the investment of the community in the process was also evident – at 9am, after four days of community consultations, the children and their families were already waiting to start.
As the responses to each exercise were collated and sorted, common issues started to emerge, for example, the need for vaccinations, improved school facilities and opportunities for employment. The children also identified domestic violence and education quality as aspects of their community that particularly concerned them. After sharing a meal together, the facilitators and community bid farewell – but only temporarily. ChildFund Timor-Leste will now use the community’s responses to plan its project approach in Sana-Nain.
The community consultation is part of ChildFund’s program approach. This ensures that ChildFund and community members truly listen and respond to children’s ideas and opinions on their experiences of poverty, the problems they face, the ways they cope and their images of the future. It also builds the capacity of children and youth to lead development in their communities. Following the completion of a series of community consultations in Manatuto, the results will be used to create an Area Strategic Plan for Manatuto, which will guide ChildFund’s work in the district through to June 2015.
The following vision statement was written by the children, youth and parents during the week: “Our village Sana-Nain wants a future with a primary and junior high school with complete facilities, a health centre, good roads, sufficient food, complete sanitation, electricity and good relations with all institutions who can support our children at school. From this, our village Sana-Nain can live in peace.”
Over the coming months and years, ChildFund Timor-Leste, Moris Foun and the community of Sana-Nain will work together to make the children’s vision a reality.