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Overcoming gender-based violence and poverty

After experiencing a sexual assault, Marisa*, a 16-year-old high school student from a remote farming village in Timor-Leste, approached our friends at Psychosocial Recovery and Development in East Timor (PRADET) for counselling and support.

Gender-based violence, including sexual and family violence, are major issues in Timor-Leste. Unfortunately, 14% of Timorese women aged 15 – 49 have experienced sexual assault perpetrated by someone other than an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime.

When PRADET began working with Marisa’s family, they discovered that they were struggling. The family lived in a tiny bamboo house that didn’t keep out the rain. Marisa’s parents barely had enough to keep everyone fed and in school. They had no way of saving for their children and giving them a pathway to a better life.

Investing in Marisa’s future

With PRADET, we helped Marisa set up a small kiosk in her house selling everyday items such as rice, toothpaste, noodles, cooking oil and detergent.

The kiosk took off, and the family was soon able to upgrade their home with brick walls and a concrete floor. They also reinvested in the kiosk by buying more stock that catered to their customers’ requests, such as sweets for children.

Marisa is now saving up to $15 per month to pay for her future university education. The kiosk also helps cover the school fees for her siblings.

Help for the whole family

Marisa’s parents are working hard to diversify their income. They have also invested profits from the kiosk in a greenhouse and are now selling their vegetables to traders in Dili, earning up to $70 per harvest.

“Now we can buy flour and other items we couldn’t afford before,” said Marisa’s mum. “We want to keep diversifying our income so we can earn more and save for our children.”

*Name has been changed

This project is supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

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Now we can buy flour and other items we couldn’t afford before. We want to keep diversifying our income so we can earn more and save for our children.

This project was supported by:

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