AEC staff deliver BRIDGE sessions in Timor Leste

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Augusto and Eduardo Casimiro de Deus from the Timor Leste electoral management body, STAE, had developed draft agendas. They also co-facilitated the workshops with Pedro as the interpreter for Brian and Gordon.

The weekend entailed all aspects of preparation work from finalising agendas and content, organising translations into the local language of Tetum, to purchasing tablecloths and bottled water. By Sunday night we had prepared what we could (knowing that each night of the week would be spent further preparing the content for individual delivery of the workshop the next day).

It was both Brian and Gordon’s second visit to East Timor. Gordon had visited previously to undertake STAE election strategic planning with local staff. Brian was involved in conducting the Election Management Body Design module with STAE staff in July-August 2008.

This time however, was Gordon’s first experience as a semi-accredited facilitator and he was surprised by the amount of preparation work that was required. However by the end of the third workshop he was very experienced in the many ways of BRIDGE.

Cate Thompson arrived early in the first week to support us in all the administrative tasks that were required for the three workshops, ie payment of cash travel allowance to 85 different participants. Her support was much appreciated and she extended her stay by two days to provide further assistance, especially for the second weekend’s preparation for the third workshop for staff new to STAE.

Despite some worries about limited preparation time, all the workshops were well received and met the objectives and achieved appropriate key understandings. The three participant groups were very different but all responded positively to the content and BRIDGE methodology. The three participant groups were:

  • District and Regional Co-ordinators for the Electoral Event Orientation Training;
  • Civil Society Church Groups for the Observer Training; and
  • Recently recruited STAE Voter Education and Information Officers for the Voter Education Induction Training.

Some of the highlights over the three workshops were:

  • Working with the people of East Timor (for Gordon and Brian);
  • The enthusiasm, passion and commitment of the participant groups to the democratic election process;
  • The responsiveness of the groups to the BRIDGE methodology;
  • The way the facilitator group worked so well as a team;
  • Gordon’s Election Tree activity (in each workshop) and the TV segment of same;
  • The church group developing songs about being electoral observers;
  • Eduardo writing and leading the group in the singing of a song about East Timor democracy to the tune of "This Land is Your Land" – the words follow:

Eleisaun ne’e laos hau nian deit, (Elections are not my own concern)

Laos’ STAE nian no CNE nian, (Nor do they belong to STAE and CNE)

Maibe ida ne’e ita nein hotu (But these (elections) belong to all of us)

Hodi habures demokrasia (To generate democracy)

Lyrics by Eduardo

Inspiration by Michael Maley

As a result of Gordon’s preparation and facilitation on the courses, he received accreditation as BRIDGE Workshop Facilitator and is very pleased to now be a fully fledged part of the BRIDGE family.

Written by Brian Latham, Gordon Marshall, Augusto Pereira and Eduardo Casimiro de Deus – Facilitators – 13 July 2009.

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