Good afternoon. I want to thank you all for joining me this afternoon at this signing ceremony, as we recognize the important work your organizations do. I am pleased that the U.S. Embassy can help further your efforts as recipients of this year’s 2020 Ambassador’s Small Grant Fund program. What is unique about the Small Grant Fund and why I value it so much is that it gives you, leaders in local communities and civil society, the tools to provide opportunities or respond to issues you see that are specific to your communities. Throughout the years, the United States has been a strong advocate of civil society in Timor-Leste, through this Small Grants Fund and also through our other programs such as USAID’s projects. On July 4, I was pleased to announce a major USAID program to support civil society. Your work supports democracy and development in Timor-Leste. I also truly value the ties we create between the U.S. Embassy and the people of the United States, with the communities throughout Timor-Leste. As you conduct your programs, we hope you are sharing information about your programs with local leaders and helping them understand the opportunities and impact of the work you are doing. By doing so, we can help build sustainability of your projects and improve the lives of more people. Sometimes, the hardest part of any project is getting good ideas off the ground. We see the Small Grant program as helping with this challenge. Your success is a success for us all.
Now, I would like to recognize the five groups here today. They are: Abundant Water, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR), Associacaõ Empresarial das Mulheres de Timor-Leste (AEMTL), Coalition for Diversity and Action (CODIVA), and Fundasaun Feto Hadomi Família (FFHF).
Among this year’s projects, you will be training government officials on sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristics to raise awareness of the LGBTI community in Timor-Leste; promoting women’s economic empowerment through grassroots activities in RAEOA Oecusse, Manufahi, and Baucau Municipalities, and business plan development with women entrepreneurs in Dili; training community women leaders on promoting the use of ceramic water filters to increase access to safe drinking water; and training both men and women in agriculture and to raise awareness of violence against women in Manufahi Municipality.
Before closing, I would like to thank Mana Tomasia for her leadership of the grant program here at the Embassy, and to introduce to you our new Grant Officer, Sandy Snider-Pugh. They will be working with you throughout the course of the year as you implement your projects. I encourage you to stay in close communication with them over the next year.
I want to thank you all for your hard work and the commitment you have shown to these efforts. Congratulations to you all!