Date: March 08, 2021
Author: Silverio Beli-Siri Andrade da Silva
Mana Luciana Ximenes lives in Mauchiga, Ainaro. She survived the Indonesian invasion of Timor-Leste and has chronic pain in her leg due to an injury from the invasion time. When we met her back in September 2020, she shared us her smiles and her story.
“I live in Mauchiga with my husband and my 25-year-old son who has hearing impairments. My son has never gone to school. He sells river sand. My husband and I have a garden and grow vegetables and beans. We also harvest coffee and have a small kiosk. ACbit helped me with investment to start the kiosk.”
When asked about the challenges she faced in earning some income, Mana Luciana said that people hardly bought the river sand her son was selling. They relied more on the small amount they could earn from selling the produce. Regardless the hardships, Mana Luciana did not give up.
“Many women have a kiosk so my income is only very little. Our garden and house are far away from the main road. We walk far with our products to find a market. Our coffee is collected at the main road to Same. The [coffee] company does not come to Mauchiga to pick it up, so we walk or find a car to take it to our buyers. We try to sell the beans at the local markets in Dare or Ainaro Villa. We walk to the market. It is very far and sometimes we have no buyers so we have to bring our products back.”
Mana Luciana kept working hard to survive, but she did have her concerns.
“I am a veteran. I suffered in the war, but I am never acknowledged as such.”
The lack of acknowledgement meant that Mana Luciana and her family would not get any veteran subsidy. She was worried that, as she aged and has no knowledge of expanding her micro-business or creating a new one, she would not have any income. Mana Luciana refused to give up, but she would like to slow down.
“Now that I am 60 years old, … I want to slow down. Maybe I can do some sewing in the house, but I have no machine and no proper space to work at home.”
ACbit is working in collaboration with Fokupers and Hivos in the Reforsa Hamutuk project to support strong women survivors like Mana Luciana. Financed by the Europen Union, the project aims to promote social inclusion and economic development for women survivors and victims of violence in Timor-Leste by raising awareness, providing training, and networking with key stakeholders from the government, businesses, training providers, and civil society.