Ana (not pictured below, due to child protection reasons) was first identified by Ba Futuru’s youth centre staff when she was 11 years old and living in a nearby community.
Ana was taken to the doctor as her family thought she was ill, but the doctor said that she was experiencing severe trauma; there were marks on her arms which indicated physical abuse. When asked by the doctor, Ana denied any abuse. Only on the way back from the doctor did Ana tell Ba Futuru’s staff that she was afraid to return home because she was being beaten, and wasn’t allowed to leave the house.
Girls at Ba Futuru’s Peace Building Centre
Ba Futuru consulted with UNICEF and the government’s unit for child protection, and following their suggestions took Ana from the home in Dili where she was living with her extended family. Ba Futuru drove Ana back to her parents, who lived in a remote part of Timor-Leste, to inform them about the situation she was in, and consult with them on her options. Ana’s parents felt it was important for Ana to remain in the capital so she could go to a good school. However, they agreed that she should no longer live with her abusive extended family.
Ana recalled her troubled past: “Before Ba Futuru found me, I felt really alone and like there was no one who paid any attention to me. The family I lived with made me feel trapped; I wasn’t free to come and go. They hit me and threatened me when I didn’t do exactly as they said. This made me feel very depressed, and because of this I felt I had to run away from their house. If I stayed with them I would not feel safe. When the family members that beat me would come in front of my face I felt really scared and sometimes I would faint because I could not control my fear.”
Ba Futuru struggled at first to find a good place for Ana to stay, as the safe houses in Dili were full. After a couple of days, however, Ba Futuru was able to find her a home in a boarding house run by nuns. Ba Futuru also found a sponsor to cover the costs of her schooling and living expenses. Following six months of coordination with the government, Ba Futuru were able to convince them to take over these expenses. The government learnt from Ana’s case, later placing other victims at the boarding house when no other support was available.
Ba Futuru continued to support Ana so that she felt safe and confident in school and in her new home. Ba Futuru provided her with counselling and has also stepped in repeatedly if she has had problems at school or with her living situation, negotiating on her behalf.
Now 15 years old, Ana speaks positively about her situation: “I feel really grateful for this assistance, not only because Ba Futuru has helped me to find support for my schooling but also because I feel safe now and I can try to forget the negative experiences that I faced in the past. I was able to process the pain that I felt through activities provided by Ba Futuru including telling stories and playing. Through providing me with these types of opportunities, Ba Futuru motivated me and helped me to really change myself. They especially helped me to become strong and brave to face my life, so that now I feel very good in the environment I live in. I will never forget what Ba Futuru has done for me.”
Each year Ba Futuru directly impacts the lives of more than 1,000 children, and indirectly impacts thousands more through improving protection mechanisms at the national and local level.
In order to help reduce the prevalence of violent discipline practices, Ba Futuru has also developed a training curriculum and resource materials on child protection and positive discipline; training parents, police, teachers and community leaders, equipping them with the knowledge and skills to positively impact the lives of children far into the future.