On December 10, International Human Rights Day, Timor-Leste President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta presented the Sergio Vieira de Mello Human Rights Award, including cash awards, to twelve notable institutions and individuals working for peace and human rights in Timor-Leste.
The top award for 201, which included $5000 cash, went to Joao Boavida of the national Center for Peace and Development Studies, or CEPAD, in Dili, for a project aimed at advancing effective dialogue and conflict resolution in the communities.
At the presentation, held in the National Parliament, an additional eleven recipients each received $5,000 cash to facilitate peace building and human rights programs in the country.
The Sergio Vieira de Mello Human Rights Award was created in 2008 by President Ramos-Horta and UNMIT, the UN Mission in Timor-Leste, in honor of the Special Representative to the Secretary General and leader of the UN Transitional Administration in Timor-Leste from December 1999 to May 2002. Credited as a leader in guiding Timor-Leste to independence, de Mello and 20 UN staff were killed by a car bomb at the Canal Hotel in Iraq in in August, 2003.
Recipients of the award include:
CEPAD (Centre of Studies for Peace and Development)
Established in 2007 with the objective of promoting Peace in Timor-Leste, CEPAD launched a Research and Dialogue for Peace Programme to implement investigation and promote dialogue. The project aims including identifying the origin of obstacles to peace and understanding the dynamics of existing conflicts in order to formulate sustainable solutions. Since 2007, CEPAD has conducted community consultations, regional conferences and debates with the intellectual elites and community leaders in the 13 districts of Timor-Leste. In their early stages of research they identified 33 political, judicial, social and economic priorities. The award will serve to equip existing houses of peace and to facilitate transfer of the houses’ operations to the local communities.
The Reverend Daniel Marçal – Project: “ONG Esperança”
ONG Esperança (NGO Hope) was formed in 2003, with the goal of providing accommodations, employment, care and support for victims of AIDS in Timor-Leste. Since its founding it has supported approximately 100 people afflicted with HIV/AIDS. ONG Esperança has also organized seminars and visits to the districts and sub districts, to disseminate information to put an end to the epidemics and to discrimination amongst relatives and friends, with an emphasis on support, love and care for the victims. It has disseminated information on effective methods of preventing the transmission of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. It defends the victims’ rights as citizens and facilitates access to medical treatment with dignity. As needed it assists with funeral services for victims without family support. The award will serve to develop the work capacity of people infected with HIV/AIDS, implement awareness programmes for teachers concerning students infected with HIV/AIDS, and provide school supplies to the children who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS.
Fidélio Freitas de Araújo – care centre for patients with bone fractures
Fidélio Freitas de Araújo has been practicing as a traditional healer in the District of Ainaro since the time of the resistance. He began healing people making use of traditional medicine to treat various types of bone fracture. Since the time of the resistance until today, he has healed over a thousand patients. He renders all services free of charge. The award will serve to build a house suited to the care of the patients.
São Domingos Sávio Orphanage (Sister Maria Letízia) – “Água Urgente” project
Established since independence, the São Domingos Sávio Orphanage orphanage has conducted an integrated educational program for 120 children and preadolescents living in the orphanage. Program activities include domestic work, cultural training, normal school activities in the morning and school support in the afternoon. It encompasses a set of activities that provides complete education to every child, so that they are assured of future integration into the society with the quality and capacity. The award will serve to build a water reservoir to support the basic hygiene and consumption needs of the orphanage’s 120 children. The orphanage operates in an area, the district of Venilale, that is currently struggling with a water shortage.
São Francisco Assis Orphanage – project for school transportation
São Francisco Assis Orphanage began its activity in 1986, in the district of Viqueque, supporting orphan children who had been victims of domestic violence, mentally challenged children, and children abandoned by families unable to support them. Residents are aged one week tp 13 years old. The orphanage affords the children education, attention, love, leading them to claim or reclaim the human dignity they need. The award will serve to purchase basic necessity items and a vehicle to transport the children to school.
Congregation of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – “Uma Rafaela Maria” Educational Centre project
Since 1987, the Congregation has supported the struggle for liberation and self-determination of the Timorese people, through acts of solidarity demonstrated by the Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace, spearheaded by Mother Yoko Nakamural. The Congregation established a community in Bazartete in 2003, working in education, development and human rights. Their repatriation programme promotes communication between the 1999 refugees and their relatives, and facilitates the return of refugees. In Dili, the Congregation contributes to the education of the children and youth in the region, and works for the protection of victims of domestic violence. It has also provided, in Dili, a small dormitory for student girls from families with financial difficulties, with very limited capacity. The award will serve to build the centre’s fence and purchase furniture, computers and other equipment needed.