Young positive role models inspiring peace in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste’s annual Peace Jam conference, supported by ChildFund in partnership with local partner Ba Futuru, promotes a more peaceful and inclusive future – built and shaped by youth.
Estagio, 21, is a member of a youth organisation in Lautem Municipality. He says violence between martial arts groups is a huge issue for young people in his community.
“Lots of my friends are involved in fighting and are getting in trouble and destroying their future,” he says.
Earlier this year, Estagio attended Peace Jam with 120 other young people from youth groups and high schools across Timor-Leste. The two-day conference – spearheaded by young people – focused on creating and promoting peace. This year’s theme was Innovative Youths: Youths that inspire other youth in peacemaking.
Estagio participated in trainings and workshops, learning valuable skills through hands-on activities focused on positive and constructive ways of dealing with conflict. He also had the opportunity to share his experiences and suggest ideas to deescalate disputes, change attitudes and reduce violence his community.
Estagio says he has greatly benefited from attending Peace Jam. The experience has helped him identify new ways of managing stressful situations and improved his conflict resolution skills. “I learnt the true meaning of peace, why it is important and how to create it. I want to share my knowledge and let my friends know there are better ways to handle arguments,” he says.
“Peace Jam is very important for young people because it teaches us how to become more organised with our lives and how to become good citizens. It also shows us we can become changemakers and positive role models to inspire others and encourage peace.”
Timor-Leste has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 74% below the age of 35. Young people, therefore, have the potential and collective power to drive positive action and build a more harmonious society and safer future for all.
Ana, 20, is a member of Inspiring Youth Changemakers in Lautem Municipality. Like Estagio, Ana left the conference with a renewed sense of purpose and hope for a more peaceful future. Hearing stories from other young people who believe peace is possible inspired Ana and sparked her desire to become a positive influence in her community.
“I plan to make some changes in my villages, such as leading youth to make or do something benefitting the whole community,” Ana says.
“I learnt the true meaning of peace, why it is important and how to create it. I want to share my knowledge and let my friends know there are better ways to handle arguments,”
– Estagio, 21