Confronted by the violence experienced by children in Timor-Leste, in 2004 Leilani Elliott (previously Danielle Ujvari) Sierra James , together with the support of Joana dos Santos Camoes, started NGO Ba Futuru.
Sierra James was Ba Futuru’s Founding Director, followed by Joana dos Santos Camoes, who served as the Director of Ba Futuru for almost nine years. In 2013, long-time staff member Juliana ‘Lica’ Marçal became Ba Futuru’s Director, and has been providing strong leadership for Ba Futuru since.
Since 2004 Ba Futuru has focused on protecting children, reducing violence and inspiring young learners
In our early years Ba Futuru focused on conflict resolution, violence prevention and child protection working with conflict-affected children in orphanages, schools and internally displaced person camps, as well as those who impacted the lives of children including parents, teachers, child protection officers, police, orphanage staff and community leaders.
Since 2006 Ba Futuru has focused on transforming the lives of at-risk youth
Responding to the extreme circumstances impacting the lives of Timorese young people that came about during the 2006 crisis, we developed new programs that focused on engaging at-risk and gang-involved youth in innovative and transformative conflict prevention skill building, art and sport.
Since 2011 Ba Futuru has focused on empowering women
In response to the fact that women’s participation in development and peace-building is limited by insufficient skills, lack of confidence and patriarchal norms in Timor-Leste, in 2011 Ba Futuru developed our three-year Empowering Women and Establishing Grassroots Protection Networks project. This built on our previous gender equality and reducing violence work in order to further enhance women’s empowerment. Since then Ba Futuru has been running various projects to empower female leaders as agents of protection and change. We will provide these women with enhanced skills in leadership and decision-making so they are able to make a meaningful contribution to the nation’s development.
Since 2012 Ba Futuru has focused on early childhood education
In 2012 our programs once again expanded to include our Early Childhood Development Initiative. This program focuses on the critical stage of development that later impacts children’s wellbeing and capacity. Less than 10% of Timorese children receive any form of early childhood education, and many in Timor-Leste are unaware of its importance. Yet, early childhood interventions have proven to be more cost-effective and to influence a wider range of health, social, and economic outcomes than interventions later in life. Thus in 2012 Ba Futuru began its Early Childhood Development Initiative which aims to improve the quality of early childhood education for children across Timor-Leste.
Today Ba Futuru has more than 30 staff and volunteers working across all 13 municipalities of Timor-Leste. We have worked directly with more than 40,000 children, young people, women and men and impacted the lives of thousands more. We continue to be inspired by the dedication of the people we work with to build a peaceful, positive and productive Timor-Leste.
In the coming years Ba Futuru will continue to provide women, young people and children with knowledge and skills to protect themselves from violence, while offering opportunities for self-expression, education, and job and leadership preparedness that can help them overcome the negative effects of conflict and gain the skills to create a positive, peaceful and productive future. At the same time Ba Futuru will work to develop the skills of those who impact the lives of women, young people and children, and will help to build the structures, systems and legal frameworks in the areas of conflict mitigation, protection and education.