The first stone is laid for Timor-Leste’s sixth Peace House
August 20, 2015
Interpeace’s partner in Timor-Leste, the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD), launched the construction of a sixth Peace House in Ma’abat village, Manatuto Municipality on 7 August 2015.
The country’s Secretary of State for Land and Property Jaime Xavier Lopes and Village Chief João da Silva were among those who joined the Manatuto Peace House steering Committee and the local community for the groundbreaking ceremony.
“The construction of this Peace House will allow the community to come together and solve the problems they face,” said Sr. Lopes. “Having a Peace House here means that the peace will indeed be forged in this space.”
Peace Houses (Uma Dame) are based on the Timorese custom of “rolling out the mat” (nahe-biti boot), or meeting to discuss and resolve disputes. These safe, neutral and community-owned venues act as a bridge between municipalities and Timor-Leste’s capital by fostering local debates and linking these to issues of national importance. Five Peace Houses have already been established in Aileu, Bobonaro, Baucau, Ermera and Manufahi.
“I stand here as I want us to further strengthen peace in this place,” said resistance veteran Sr. Sebastiao Soares. “And by breaking the ground for this Peace House, I am contributing to the growth of Manatuto, my municipality.”
Peace Houses are also designed to host a range of complementary activities that bring people together and encourage civil society participation, including youth group meetings, workshops on craft commercialization and language classes.
Others at the ceremony included local representatives from Rede Feto, the national network of women’s organizations, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Solidarity and the State Secretariat for Youth and Sports.
“To all the members of the local community who have passed and whom we remember today: we want you to continue living here,” said Sr. João Boavida, CEPAD Executive Director. “We want you to show us the way and I hope that with this stone I lay here today I will indeed contribute to build and to strengthen peace in this municipality.”
The Manatuto Peace House will open its doors in 2016 thanks to a collaboration between CEPAD, the local community, the Prime Minister’s Office Civil Society Fund and Interpeace.