45-year-old Manuel Dos Santos Martins is a former pro-integration militia who lives in a new resettlement called Wemori, close to the border between Indonesia and Timor Leste. Since 1999, after the referendum resulted in the independence of East Timor from Indonesia, thousands of people fled to West Timor and lived in a resettlement provided by the Indonesian government. The situation for people here is often difficult and Manuel works to make people understand the value of having an education.
“We cannot force parents to send their children to school, Manuel says. I need to change parents’ understanding first so that they are aware and want to send their children to school.”
“We cannot force parents to send their children to school. I need to change parents’ understanding first so that they are aware and want to send their children to school.”— Manuel Dos Santos Martins
Through the project CERIA, which is supported by H&M Foundation, Manuel is learning how to run the child centre effectively and to get more young people involved as teachers and into Early Childhood Care and Development – ECCD. ECCD takes a holistic approach to the development of children; including physical, cognitive, language, social and emotional development.
Engaging fathers into ECCD
Save the Children believe that ECCD could serve as a platform for promoting awareness on gender equality: mothers who participate in integrated ECCD programs may become powerful advocates for gender equality and fathers may learn the value of men being involved in care and development of young children, and in the process, also advocates for gender equality in their families or communities.
“I am glad there has been a special meeting session involving fathers. This is important because most fathers don’t have time with their children due to their high working hours.”— Manuel Dos Santos Martins
Manuel has become the leader and facilitator who encourages fathers to engage in ECCD and parenting, by leading fathers’ classes on a regular monthly basis.
“I am glad there has been a special meeting session involving fathers. This is important because most fathers don’t have time with their children due to their high working hours. In some way, they are not aware that if they do not spend time with their children, the results will be useless. I have experienced this. I lost two of my children.”
Moreover, having been through high school himself, Manuel also tries to gather several parents to attend literacy classes in collaboration with the education office. Together with his cousin Armindo he tries to mobilize the community to build elementary schools in two hamlets near the border in collaboration with the village government. Their aim is to provide a learning place for children after they have finished studying in the ECCD.