alola

Overview

Fundasaun Alola is a not for profit non-governmental organisation operating in Timor-Leste to improve the lives of women and children. Founded in 2001 by Ms Kirsty Sword Gusmao, the organisation seeks to nurture women leaders and advocate for the rights of women by addressing problems relating to education, economic development, maternal and child health and advocating women's rights.

Vision: WOMEN OF TIMOR - LESTE HAVE EQUAL STATUS IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE (access, participation, role in decision making, enjoyment of benefits of development) THROUGH EDUCATION, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, HEALTH AND COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP Mission: To promote women's rights and increase women's leadership capacity, Improve health status of women and children , Increase access & quality of education for women and children and Strengthen women's small enterprise at grassroots level - Values: 1. Equality 2. Fairness 3. Participation 4. Respect Working Principles: 1. Friendly space especially for women and children 2. Gender equality 3. Ownership of Programs 4. Transparency and accountability 5. Professionalism 6. Sustainability

Fundasaun Alola recognises multi-dimensional disadvantage including limited access to education, a lack of sustainable economic opportunity, poor health status (particularly maternal and child health), and a recent history of oppression and trauma, as interrelated problems that limit the capacity of women to assume positions of leadership and access their rights. Fundasaun Alola is concerned with directly addressing the barriers that prevent women in Timor-Leste from enjoying their right to good health, education, socio-economic opportunities and political participation for the benefit of all people in Timor-Leste, as reflected in Alola's motto Feto Forte, Nasaun Forte (Strong Women, Strong Nation).

Alola's five key program areas include Operations, which oversees all organisational logistics and resource management, and the following:

The Maternal and Child Health Program (MCH) was established in 2003 to respond to the health needs of women and children in Timor-Leste. Originally tasked with promoting exclusive breastfeeding and good breastfeeding practices under the directive of the National Breastfeeding Association and The Ministry of Health, the MCH's activities have expanded immensely since then.  Infant mortality rates are still unacceptably high with 45 children out of every 1,000 live births failing to celebrate their first birthday. More mothers need to receive pre and post-partum care (57% in urban areas; 24% in districts). The burden of ill health still rests disproportionally on women and children living in rural areas, with 61 deaths per 1,000 live births in rural areas compared to 42 deaths per 1,000 live births in urban areas. Malnourishment remains extremely high with 27% of women estimated to be malnourished; 45% of children under 5 underweight; and, 58% of children under 5 identified with stunted growth. Based on the understanding that community participation and empowerment is critical to addressing these challenges, the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) program utilizes a range of strategies directed at multiple levels: nationally and within districts; within health facilities including hospitals, community health centre and local health posts and, within the broader community.

The Education and Literacy Program pursues an objective to capacity build to expand opportunities for women through increasing access and quality of education for women and children in Timor-Leste. Since its establishment in 2001, the program has worked to build relationships with the Ministry of Education, as well as national and international organisations concerned with improving education systems. Alola's Education and Literacy staff model best practice teaching and learning methodologies, deliver teacher training, and develop resources to promote early numeracy and literacy. In 2016, Education Program focuses on building capacity and expanding opportunities for women and children to access quality education in Timor-Leste. This Program increased its reach by 1) Continuing its scholarship support to students at primary, secondary school and university; 2) Providing support to primary school leaders and teachers through a professional learning and mentoring program; 3) Promoting the importance of reading within the community as a whole and increasing children's interest and ability; and, 4) Developing opportunities for early learners through the Alternative Preschool Home-based and Centre-based Pilot. With funding from MAMA (Make A Mark Australia), we have also re-developed our Educational Resource Centre (ERC) that serves as a base for the development of local teaching materials.

The Advocacy Program undertakes public education, research and promotion of women's rights with a view to promoting legal frameworks that reflect women's rights, and providing women with practical skills that allow them to pursue positions of leadership. The Advocacy Program engages in campaigns for women's rights, provides humanitarian assistance through associated networks, and provides opportunities for young women's development through its Women's Resource Centre. In 2016, the Advocacy Program continued to promote women's human rights through campaigning, strengthening the leadership of women, developing networks with all partners and empowering women in all municipal areas to access information and understand their rights. On this year, Alola have seen significant improvements for women, young people and children through the contribution of the Advocacy Program together with partners from the national and municipal levels. Furthermore, Alola have increased the capacity and knowledge of beneficiaries about prevention and protection from gender based violence, especially young women and men (students, teachers, people with disabilities and the broader community).

The Economic Development Program provides opportunities for women across Timor-Leste to participate in economic life through small business, cooperative producer groups and finance education. The Program aims to reduce poverty and promote cultural heritage by working with women to improve their skills producing quality textiles and other handcrafts, of increased value to both national and international markets for their use of local cottons and natural dye plants. Alola's Economic Development Program is comprised of highly skilled national staff who advise women's groups on quality control, safety, business skills, marketing and fair trade practice. The Program partners with local and national NGO's and bilateral partners with a view to sustainable income generation for women and their families. During 2016, Alola has also made a significant contribution to agricultural development for women through mechanisms such as the provision of micro-credit and capacity development. Alola continues to work with empowering women in small local cooperatives as one good way to achieve long term change.