Sierra James

Ashoka Fellow
Dili, East Timor, East Asia
Fellow Since 2014


This profile was prepared when Sierra James was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Touched by the experience of Sierra’s neighbor little children beaten up by their relatives at home, Sierra established the first local initiative movement to end the violence against children, Ba Futuru (For the Future) in 2004. She developed a manual of Transformative Arts and Human Rights Education (TAHRE), which includes creative methods of teaching conflict resolution, violence prevention and human rights awareness. The training modules depicted in the manual use art, dramatic role plays, and other interactive-participatory activities to deliver the issue of human rights as well as to help individuals process their trauma, understanding self and respect the difference in the community and engaging individual to take the role in creating a positive conflict resolution within their own community.

TAHRE is customized for the many segments of the training’s participants. At the beginning Sierra used TAHRE for the orphanage then with the same module, she customized to trained school teacher to used not violence and physical punishment based discipline. Sierra has developed and adapted various materials and methodologies to train not only teachers, but also school directors and parents who impact the lives of children. Ba Futuru also works with youth who became key perpetrators in 2008 in the gang violence that led to murder and arson. She changed the youth from perpetrators to become a mediator for give a positive conflict resolution. The youth equipped with confidence, skill in conflict resolution and the ability to create a positive future for themselves and their communities despite their at-risk background. And to make the movement of breaking the cycle of violence systemically sustain, she trained the existing institution, legal frameworks, and protection system such as the police officer, government official, the administrator, to the parliament members with modified TAHRE module to create the understanding of human rights issue and how to applied the law related to children and woman protection.

In total, Ba Futuru has guided more than 30.000 women, children, youth, community leaders, police, teachers and parents. Ba Futuru works in the areas of gender empowerment, peace building, child protection and conflict transformation in 13 districts of Timor East. TAHRE modules, has been adopted in the school curriculum by Ministry of Education. In 2013, Ba Futuru launched final recommendations for the government to enhance the current protection system, to reinforce the function and responsibility of the village council to refer cases of domestic violence to courts, and to ensure that women, children and vulnerable people receive assistance to access justice through the community Protection Team. Since TAHRE Module is available at the Ba Futuru to download, the module has been used in many post-conflict areas in Latin America, Africa and event in USA by various organizations.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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