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Greatest Happiness of Victoria

By: Muhary Wahyu Nurba/Oxfam

Through her role as facilitator for Matase Village, West Malaka Sub-district, Belu District, East Nusa Tenggara Province, Victoria Lawekleau (38) discovered her identity: as a tough woman and the best friend for other women and of course the protector for her family.

“I don’t know why I was pointed as the facilitator. But I’m sure the people in this village have their own reasons,” Victoria said, smiling.

Victoria has been selected as a facilitator a few months ago through a forum facilitated by Perkumpulan Masyarakat Peduli Bencana (PMPB or in English: Disaster Care Society) and local residents to succeed of the healthy well program and community capacity development program. Oxfam and its partner, PMPB, have been giving direct guidance for this community.
At first she hesitated to take that position because she never heard the word facilitator before. What does it do? She also did not know. “I didn’t even go to school,” said Victoria.

The PMPB briefed her and her husband, who works as a driver, supported her fully. Now, Victoria has been a facilitator along with four others in the village of Matase. Each facilitator serves in each hamlet. Out of five facilitators, two are women and Victoria is one of them.

The first program that she worked on together with local residents was to plant bamboo trees along the river bank up to two miles. Unfortunately, this program has failed in a matter of weeks. Floods washed away the seeds.

After the flood subsided, the chief of the village asked for help from university students. They then re-planted the bamboo in its previous location. This initiative gave her an injection of enthusiasm. She was more active in disseminating the importance of keeping nature including keeping environment clean.

The village residents also improved their pig cages. The locations of the cage were rearranged. So those cages are located higher from the ground to avoid swept away by the water whenever flood happens.

Another important program was the healthy wells. For all these times, the Matase residents have never had a decent well, but water is their most basic needs. They have built some but those were not reliable. If a flood came, the well collapsed. Then, the people had to use water sources that are not healthy.

Healthy well program appeared in a joint meeting which attended by local residents, village officials, and PMPB. The forum has decided that each village should have a healthy well sample. Oxfam through PMPB facilitated the construction. In the meantime, village officials facilitated the construction of these wells by ensuring the human resources. In just two weeks, pilot healthy wells have been available in five hamlets. Until now, communities continue to use the wells.

“Thanks to the head of the village. Thanks to his motivation so that the program was succeeded. Thanks also to the PMPB staff. They are really sincere helping us to solve our problems. For us, the well is like a gift from God that we should grateful for,” said Victoria, touched.

But Victoria’s greatest happiness, however, lies in the more extensive network of friendship. She feels more people she knew in her village environment. “This is the benefit from the meetings we have. Here we discuss common problems and how to manage it. I’ve finally learned that even though we come from different hamlets but we should solve our problems together,” she added. ***

This story has been developed from one of areas of Building Resilience in Eastern Indonesia project, supported by Australian Government through Australia-Indonesia Partnership. This project is aiming to strengthening government, civil society and community action for disaster risk reduction with its cross cutting issues; climate change adaptation and gender or women empowerment where it focuses to assist 16 districts in six provinces; NTT, NTB, Sulawesi Utara, Sulawesi Tengah, Papua and Papua Barat, where most disaster prone areas lay.

Caption for photo: Victoria (at the right with blue polo shirt) is in a community meeting with her neighbours in Matase Village. (Cici Riesmasari/Oxfam)

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