Stephanie is a young Christian leader, teaching children and families how to stay safe from abuse and family violence.
“What I’d really like is for the children to know that they have a future and that God loves them,” Stephanie says. “I think this is what will really make a difference. This is what has made the biggest difference to me, and it’s where I find my courage.”
Stephanie, just seventeen, has been teaching Sunday School for the last twelve months in her family church in Dili. Songs and stories are a major part of the lessons, and she loves to see the enthusiasm of her young pupils.
Timor Leste struggles to support children adequately, with domestic abuse under reported but extremely widespread. Some estimate that as many as three in five children experience abuse of one kind or another. Few families fully understand the impact of violence on children, in large part because conflict has left so many adults traumatised. The estimates that 80% of adults in Timor Leste today experienced violence and abuse in their own childhoods during the Occupation.
Child Protection policies are desperately needed and the Church is determined to help schools and churches understand how to spot abuse and respond to it.
“The future of Timor Leste depends on how we respond to children right now,” says Gerson Haud, from the IPTL. “Young leaders like Stephanie are vital to our plan to create a different future for the country, and we need all the support we can muster to train and equip people like Stephanie to being about this change.”
Watch the story here.