by Oby, Resident at Dunamis House, Dili, Timor-Leste. He is an undergraduate in a local university.
“Transforming Villages, Empowering Lives” (TVEL) is a vision given by God through Pastor See, my hostel’s Mama. It stems from the needs and situations in the villages of Timor-Leste. It is a way for the villages to develop and improve the lives of the people. The concept idea of TVEL is to be God’s prevenient grace to the villagers by bringing hope to them. Through “Transforming Villages” in maximising farm lands, and “Empowering Lives” in strengthening relationships within family, may the villagers desire to receive God’s grace of salvation.
This vision means a lot to me and is also important for my people back in the village. My people need help; their lives need to be transformed and to be empowered so that they can live a meaningful and purposeful life. In my village, many people give up working; they just sit around at home and waste their lives.
These villagers become discouraged because they are still struggling to survive despite years and generations of labouring in the farm. Farmers need help to maximized their lands in farming. For years and generations, farmers just grow corn, tapioca, and vegetables that are enough for their families but not for selling. They need more hands to help them in farming if they want to maximise their lands, but they do not have money to pay people to help. They do not have money to build good sturdy fence to prevent animals from looting their crops. They do not have money to dig well and build water system for the farm. They do not have buyers when they have good harvest, and they do not have enough hands to harvest fast enough before their produce starts to rot. In the village, although the farmers have a lot of lands, they are still hungry and poor because there is no one who can help them and empower them to maximise their lands in farming.
Some left for the city in search for a better future, but only to realise that they are not able to find a job with decent pay to survive. In Dili, life is so difficult. It is difficult to earn money and most people end up as sale assistants in grocery and hardware shops that pay only USD70 per month. In addition, the cost of living in the city is high: renting a room is USD50. Even if one shares a room with another person, he will still need to pay USD25. As such, many end up sleeping in the shops if their employers allow. The harsh reality is they earn barely enough to survive in the city and are not able to send money home. This results in more sufferings and it becomes a double setback for them.
Young people who manage to finish their studies in the university may not get a job. In Timor-Leste, we need to know someone who is working in the company before we can get the job. They may be a relative or a god-father or god-mother. I do not have anyone to recommend and bring me into a company. So often I keep thinking about my future and if I will ever get a job when I finish my study. Where and how can I get a job? I worry a lot about my future.
Many young men in the villages just drown themselves in unhealthy and unproductive lifestyles. They do not see any future in life. They are wasting their lives in drinking and fighting, and creating more problems for their families who are already suffering. Children are very much left on their own to grow up. They wander outside without supervision because their parents are struggling to survive through farming. Children’s education is not their priority when surviving is an issue.
When I first heard of this vision in 2020, I was excited and happy because there was hope for me and my people in the village. Mama said then, God willing, TVEL would start in 2023. Since then, we have been discussing on and learning how to carry out this vision. I look forward to the day when I can witness transformation taking place in my village. I hope and pray that the villagers will be encouraged to rise-up and develop well.
May God transform my village and the lives of my people. May the people be empowered in their farming and livelihood. May the Lord empower us to carry out the vision to bring about transformation in our lives, so that the transformation will be a living testimony to God. May my people come to know that God sees our helpless situations and that He loves us and delivers us for His glory. Every day, I pray for God to prepare and equip us to carry out this vision of TVEL.
This year is 2023, I praise God for hearing our prayers! We have started the TVEL pilot project in April. May God lead us from this one-year pilot project to the actual launching of TVEL next year.
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