In Aileu, Plan International hosted an annual debating contest where 19 boys and girls competed to win the regional prize and progress to the final in Dili.
The speakers raised important questions such as 'Is smoking a Timor-Leste culture that can be changed?' and 'Who benefits from social media?', highlighting their concerns about Timor-Leste's future. The young people who took part were selected to represent their school and were trained in public speaking via a Plan International EU-funded programme.
You could see the talent on display as each student fought to capture the attention of the judges and convince them of their argument. In a country where the views of girls are often ignored, or unheard, it was great to see first, second and third places awarded to young women.
17 year old Guistiana's speech was entitled 'Education is the path to a developed nation.'; something Plan International fully endorses.
Guistiana chatted after giving her speech telling Plan International staff, 'Through education we can learn about health and other areas and we can provide help to those who need it.' she continued 'I entered the competition because people showed me they believed in me'.
Through education we can learn about health and other areas and we can provide help to those who need it... I entered the competition because people showed they believed in me.
Another participant, Francelina, from a small mountainous village outside Aileu, chose the subject of social communication. She highlighted the difficulties of connecting to the outside world growing up in a village with no electricity. She told us the secret to her confident oratory style was lots of practice, strong gestures and giving the audience lots of eye contact.
The winner Anatercia had to stand on a concrete block behind the podium to reach the microphone. Despite this she wowed the judges with her confident style, the quality of her gestures and the strength of her arguments. She now proceeds to the national finals in Dili later this year.
Plan International believes in ensuring that young people have a voice in their community and works with boys and girls so they can be advocates for children's rights in their communities, schools and homes.