Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Balibo Community Learning Center evolves

Surviving and Moving Forward Together!

The Balibo Community Learning Center (CLC) and its Community Management Committee(CMC) have walked a bumpy road after the new CMC members were elected last year. BELUN and WVTL have been continuing to assist the Balibo CMC and its activities mainly by building the capacity of the CMC and village leaders. However, building the capacity of CMC is much more than just providing training; such efforts must be tied to local needs to create trust and services for their community in the long term.

Understanding that the CMC members have different background and didn’t have experience managing community learning centre; the CMC members were trained in the area of organisational management and BELUN encouraged the CMC members to learn and share experience from others local NGOs to have better skills and understanding on how to manage a learning centre. As a result, the CMC members submitted a proposal for a comparative study to local NGOs in Baucau and Aileu districts.

Six CMC members undertook a week long internship, in two local NGOs namely CDC and CTA (Centru Treainamentu Aileu) which are located in Baucau and Aileu district respectively. All of the CMC members have learnt different skills related to their roles and responsibilities in Balibo CLC. During the internship, the Treasurer, Maria, focused on learning about financial control and management. Meanwhile Rogerio as the President of the CMC learnt about organisational structure, leadership and fund rising.
“I have never been trained on how to write proposals for donor, so far the donor who heard about Balibo House and people who works for various governmental and international organization which passed by the house stop by and asking how they can support Balibo CLC. And now I understand the importance of fund raising within and outside the community to make Balibo CLC sustainable and benefiting more community members in the future”. Rogerio has also learnt about organizational structure and how to ensure that each person in the structure understands their roles and functions.

After the study visit there have been significant changes in the CLC. Each CMC member has better understanding about their role and the trust among them is significantly improved. They also more transparent about the CLC’s income from the carpentry and mechanic classes and also the procurement process in Balibo CLC. “In the past, Rogerio, the president, took over my role, I have never been involved in procurement process such as asking for quotations from vendors before decide which vendor offer low price. Furthermore, I didn’t get involved in the approval of the payment”, Maria Lake explained. “But now the president has delegated procurement task to the treasurer and secretary, it is more transparent now and our communication and working relationship is better”, she added.

Balibo CLC serves the local communities by providing skills training in four areas, namely computers, mechanics, carpentry and sewing. The mechanic workshop is now bigger than before, in the past only a basic service was provided such as changing engine oil and small repairs, but now they can also re-paint the motorbike. “The competition among mechanic workshop is higher now, we have to have diverse and better services for our community in order to meet their demand” the trainer said. In addition to the mechanics workshop, regular furniture orders from the community continue.

Balibo CLC has several sources of income which are useful to cover overhead costs. The old generator and plastic chairs are being used to generate income. The community rents these for parties or others occasions. “People sometimes rent the truck, it is benefiting us and we can use the money to maintain the truck”, the driver added.

The Balibo CMC is working hard to increase accountability to their community. CMC has conducted a stakeholders meeting aimed to report CLC’s activities and its income from carpentry, mechanic workshop, generator and chairs hire and truck hire as well. In this meeting the CMC encouraged all participants to give inputs and feedback about what they can do to make CLC sustainable or even better in the future. The meeting included Sub-district authorities Village council representatives, the sub-district administrator, Church leader, youth group, womens group, PNTL and the CMC. “We are very proud with the significant changes achieved in CLC, now I can see that we are moving forward. The trust is increased and we have to working closely together to make everything better in the future”, the advisor said after stakeholder meeting.

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