Timor-Leste

ChildFund Launches Fund a Project

by Cynthia Price
Director of Communications

I’ve been working for ChildFund for a little over a year, and I’m impressed by those donors who can help a community by building a school, supplying a water pump or providing materials for a health hut.

These are significant contributions that usually require several thousand dollars to make them happen. How fortunate we are to have these individual donors.

For those of us who want to make a meaningful contribution but may not have the resources to do so individually, ChildFund has developed a collective tool, Fund a Project.

Children in Afghanistan have few safe places to play.

It’s a great way for a few or many of us to come together to support a program and bring it to life. I’m drawn to the playground equipment for parks in Afghanistan. I can’t even imagine what life is like for those children, but how incredible will it be for children to have a place to play and forget about conflict?

A little more than $50,000 is needed for the playground equipment. I’ve made a $10 donation to get the project started. With the help of others making similar donations, it won’t be long until the children in these Afghanistan communities are having fun on a playground.

If you’re also looking to make an impact, consider helping provide water pumps for rural families in Timor Leste or supplies for community gardens in the United States. The water pumps cost $2,800 while the community gardens are $7,000.

The two most expensive endeavors of Fund a Project are malaria-prevention programs in Zambia at $41,000, and a global youth employment and livelihood initiative for $100,000. They are both worthy goals for collective efforts.

I like the idea of funding a program that positively impacts children. And I like knowing that I’m doing it with many others, even though I will probably never meet them or know who they are. But that’s OK because we all want the same thing — a better world for these children.

A Better Future Against All Odds

Earlier this summer, Vice President of Global Programs Anne Scott paid a visit to Timor Leste, a small country that only this decade became an independent nation. As our blog series visits this country today, we take a look back at one of Anne’s blog entries from early August.

In the central district of Bobonaro, we are driving into the “redlands,” a description owing to the unfertile red soil and the red wood of the eucalyptus trees, among the few kinds of trees that grow here. It is a hot, dry and dusty plain — an unyielding landscape, surrounded by a ring of mountains, also dry in this season, regardless of altitude. The river bed is completely exposed to pebbles and rock.

Vice President of Global Programs Anne Scott visits Bobonaro.

Vice President of Global Programs Anne Scott visits Bobonaro in Timor Leste.

Supplying food and water for families in this area is difficult, always, and especially so in this dry season. Electricity has yet to reach here, as even light in the nearest town center comes from generators, and only at night time.

And yet, against all odds in this remote rural area, I visit an early childhood development center — built, equipped and staffed thanks to ChildFund — where sponsored and enrolled children ages 3 to 5 take their turn to recite poems they have written, or, following the new government curriculum, sing songs of hope for this second youngest country in the world.

I inaugurate a new water pipe, funded by the Australian Aid Agency and installed by ChildFund and its local partner Hamutuk, which means “together” in Tetum, the local language, in a community where 40 children are sponsored. The pipe saves the children — usually girls — from having to walk two miles each way, twice a day, to gather water. This leaves them with extra energy to concentrate on their studies. And their parents are using the water to grow nutritious vegetables, otherwise sold at high prices in the town center some 10 miles away, a trip usually made by foot or infrequent motorbike.

Young and old alike have clean water to drink and wash, sparing them from a host of waterborne infections, for which there is no medical care readily available. Everybody, each in their own way, relishes the water now flowing from the village tap.

On the way home, in a coastal community over the mountains from the plain, we visit a house, newly built of sturdy cement and rattan, thanks to a generous Gifts of Hope and Love catalog donor. We receive the gratitude of the mother of six children, two of whom are sponsored. She can now proudly accommodate her children.31 in 31

Despite it all, traditions are strong and continue to give strength. The women of the village insist to dress me in the traditional Timorese costume. In doing so, I feel further acceptance of the relationship between ChildFund and the community. While children throw locally gathered flower petals over me, this strikes me as an important connection.
I’ve been to a lot of countries — 48 and counting. But in only a few, including Timor Leste, is daily survival so critical. If you are a sponsor of or a donor to a child in Timor Leste, you are truly a special person. Your support is paving the way for the children’s future, and for the future of this young nation. We need more like you.

I have also seen that the ChildFund team realizes and appreciates your generosity, and is working hard to make your gift make a difference to children and youth in Timor Leste.

For more information on Timor Leste, click here.

More on Timor Leste
Population: 1.1 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 170,000 children and families
Did You Know?: Timor Leste’s linguistic diversity is acknowledged in the country’s constitution, which designates Portuguese and Tetum as official languages and English and Bahasa Indonesia as working languages.

A Brighter Future in Timor-Leste

By Anne Scott,
Vice President of Global Programs

Note: This is the second of two blog entries from Anne’s visit to Timor Leste.

Heading east out of the main city of Dili, we climb up and through a mountain pass to be rewarded with a glorious view of an emerald sea, dotted with wooden fishing boats and a coastline of white beaches interspersed with dense, green mangrove forests, which are now endangered by rapid development throughout Asia, but still in tact in this part of Timor-Leste.

Small village compounds, where numerous fish nets are spread out to dry in the morning sun, appear along the road every now and again. The sea gives a deceptive impression. If you can take your eyes away from the emerald waters, you can notice the salty, sandy soil to the left of the road, and the brown, parched mountain sides rising up to the right, and you are reminded that not enough water is available to sustain the people living here.

With funding from the European Commission, ChildFund is bringing food security to children and families in 63 villages in this area. The ChildFund team established a farmer field school, which models and teaches skills in seed cultivation, catching rainwater, intensive farming of high yield vegetable crops and alternative staple foods, and goat rearing. ChildFund Sweden, a partner organization of ChildFund International, donated a water tank to supply the farmer field school.

Youth facilitators from surrounding communities are selected to attend the school and then introduce in their home villages these practices aimed at producing adequate food for all. Along the way, the youth gain important livelihood skills and the opportunity to become leaders in their communities.

Children dressed in colorful, hand woven Timorese sarongs greet us with a “snake dance” accompanied by drum and metal gong. We are presented with our very own farmers hats and traditional baskets, expertly woven from palm fronds.

After touring the field school, we sample the delicious, organically grown sweet potatoes, taro and cassava, spiced with garlic and chili. We wash it down with the rich, heavily sweetened local coffee, topping it off with a banana.

Having shared in the generous hospitality, we hear of their experience of the farmer field school. They are happy about the new farming skills they have acquired and the greater quantity and variety of vegetables. They want to expand their activities to include cattle rearing. They remain concerned about the water supply and see a need for more water tanks in more villages.

Stunted growth, rickets and other conditions related to longstanding, inadequate nutrition are commonly seen here. With food security comes improved nutrition and calorie intake for growing children and mothers during pregnancy, as well as greater strength for all parents.

In helping these communities to build food security, the ChildFund team has also brought a deeper sense of security, underlying their motivation to make expanded plans for the future.

Previous posts from Anne Scott’s Asia trip:
* Signs of Change in Timor-Leste 
* Recapturing Lost Time in Indonesia  
* An Oasis of Calm and Beauty

Signs of Change in Timor-Leste

By Anne Scott,
Vice President of Global Programs

(Note: Anne, who visited Indonesia last week, is now in Timor-Leste. This is the first of two blog entries she has sent from that part of Asia.)

Timor-Leste’s independence – won through hardship and conflict, and only recently recognized within this decade – is taking shape. Stability slowly emerges out of crisis as traditional ways of life stand strong amidst burnt out buildings and minimal infrastructure. Simple household compounds built of palm leaves and forest branches endure, as stucco and cement buildings, built by successive visiting powers, erode gradually. Pigs, chickens, cattle and ponies graze on the grounds of deserted military and police outposts.

Vice President of Global Programs Anne Scott visits with children in Indonesia last week.

Vice President of Global Programs Anne Scott visits with children in Indonesia last week.

In the central district of Bobonaro, we are driving into the “redlands,” a description owing to the unfertile red soil and the red wood of the eucalyptus trees, amongst the few kinds of trees that grow here. It is a hot, dry and dusty plain – an unyielding landscape, surrounded by a ring of mountains, also dry in this season, regardless of altitude. The river bed is completely exposed to pebbles and rock.

Supplying food and water for families in this area is difficult, always, and especially so in this dry season. Electricity has yet to reach here, as even light in the nearest town center comes from generators, and only at night time.

And yet, against all odds in this remote rural area, I visit an early childhood development center – built, equipped and staffed thanks to ChildFund – where sponsored and enrolled children aged 3-5 take their turn to recite poems they have written, or, following the new government curriculum, sing songs of hope for this second youngest country in the world.

I inaugurate a new water pipe, funded by the Australian Aid Agency and installed by ChildFund and its local partner Hamutuk, which means “together” in Tetum, the local language, in a community where 40 children are sponsored. The pipe saves the children – usually girls – from having to walk two miles each way, twice a day, to gather water. This leaves them with extra energy to concentrate on their studies. And their parents are using the water to grow nutritious vegetables, otherwise sold at high prices in the town center some 10 miles away, a trip usually made by foot or infrequent motorbike.

Young and old alike have clean water to drink and wash, sparing them from a host of water-born infections, for which there is no medical care readily available. Everybody, each in their own way, relishes the water now flowing from the village tap.

On the way home, in a coastal community over the mountains from the plain, we visit a house, newly built of sturdy cement and rattan, thanks to a generous Gifts of Hope and Love catalog donor. We receive the gratitude of the mother of six children, two of whom are sponsored. She can now proudly accommodate her children.

Despite it all, traditions are strong and continue to give strength. The women of the village insist to dress me in the traditional Timorese costume. In doing so, I feel further acceptance of the relationship between ChildFund and the community. While children throw locally gathered flower petals over me, this strikes me as an important connection.

I’ve been to a lot of countries – 48 and counting. But in only a few, including Timor-Leste, is daily survival so critical. If you are a sponsor of or a donor to a child in Timor-Leste, you are truly a special person. Your support is paving the way for the children’s future, and for the future of this young nation. We need more like you.

I have also seen that the ChildFund team realizes and appreciates your generosity, and is working hard to make your gift make a difference to children and youth in Timor-Leste.

Previous posts from Anne Scott’s Asia trip:
* Recapturing Lost Time in Indonesia 
* An Oasis of Calm and Beauty

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