Centro Feto (Women’s Centre) is a small non-government organisation that works to combat domestic violence and advocate for the empowerment of women.As well as providing a small refuge and counselling service for women and children suffering from domestic violence, Centro Feto works with the community and other NGOs to develop strategies to overcome domestic violence and promote gender advocacy. indigo foundation provided support for Centro Feto between 2002 and 2004.
In 2004 in partnership with indigo foundation, Centro Feto was recognised internationally at the World Bank funded Development Marketplace Awards. Centro Feto was chosen as one of 178 finalists from a field of over 2,700 applications. The theme of the Marketplace was ‘making services work for the poor’. Proposals were judged on the basis of their innovation, realism, prospect for sustainability and replicability. Jennifer Spence, indigo foundation Project Manager for East Timor represented Centro Feto and indigo foundation in Washington with strong support provided on the day by our representative Leanne Black.
Without reliable public transport or communication services outside Oecussi’s main town, women in sub-districts are often unable to access basic services. Centro Feto’s access to a 4WD is very limited as many of the international NGOs who once provided transport have left. Centro Feto therefore find it difficult to offer services to women in the more remote areas.
2004 saw a shift in the way Centro Feto works with women in Oecussi. It is starting to undertake activities that work more broadly towards empowering women. For example, Centro Feto staff took on short-term paid work with other donors to provide information to communities on the upcoming elections for village chiefs. In many ways this is not surprising. As Janet Hunt describes in Building a new society: NGOs in East Timor (2004):
“The emergency period brought significant resources and many international donors to East Timor, and some donors and international NGOs made significant efforts to help rebuild and nurture the NGO community, although this was not without its difficulties and misunderstandings. That phase is now past, and NGOs are facing another transition to the longer-term situation, in which resources will be reduced and they will have to demonstrate the quality and effectiveness of their work to maintain international support. They will also have to find innovative ways to earn income and become more self-reliant.”
Not surprisingly there were significant difficulties with Centro Feto in 2004, due to limited resources, some personality tensions and financial mismanagement. This has been exacerbated by the increasingly limited role played by members of the Centro Feto Management Committee. Unfortunately, we had no choice but to terminate our relationship with Centro Feto in early 2005.
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