by Zoe Hogan, ChildFund Timor-Leste
Over the course of January’s 31 days, we’re making a blog stop in each country where we serve children, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors and donors. Today we visit the Uai-Bua school, which is benefitting from strong community support.
The school grounds of Uai-Bua primary school in the village of Ossu, Viqueque, is a shining example of what a community can achieve when it works together toward a common goal.
The Uai-Bua school shouldered a heavy responsibility in the local area – the school had just 11 classrooms to teach approximately 1,000 children, ages 6 to 14. However, the cramped conditions inside the rooms were not the only problem. The holes in the roofs and walls often exposed children to wind and rain during classes.
Concerned by the problem, the Uai-Bua Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) met with Jose, ChildFund Timor-Leste’s education project officer, to discuss how they could work together to improve the school’s facilities. The PTA had been waiting many years of country unrest for an opportunity to work in partnership to develop the school. “It’s been 10 years since independence, and nothing has happened until now,” said Acácio Monteiro, the school’s director.
ChildFund Timor-Leste first held a training workshop with the PTA to help them identify and prioritize the current needs of the school and write a proposal for funding aid. The training is part of a long-term strategy to build the community’s capacity to successfully advocate on its own behalf.
The PTA of Uai-Bua then submitted a proposal to ChildFund Timor-Leste outlining the renovations required for one school building, including two classrooms. The proposal was approved with funding from UNICEF, and the community also donated about 50 percent of the labor and local materials needed to help the funding go further
After a month of hard work by parents, teachers and the community, the building had new walls, a new ceiling and a sealed roof. The schoolchildren shared their parents’ excitement about the renovated classrooms. Rafaela, 10, confessed that learning for her and her classmates had been difficult in the past, especially when the roof leaked. She added, “I am looking for knowledge!” She is happy that her classmates will be able to learn safely in the renovated building.
Now that the PTA has newfound skills in proposal writing and confidence in their ability to make a contribution, they’re already discussing what’s next for Uai-Bua school.