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  • Danieka Strathdee

Volunteering in East Timor

East Timor, or Timor-Leste, is a beautiful and diverse country located in Southeast Asia. It's an incredible destination for travellers looking to escape the beaten path and experience something truly unique and authentic. However, despite its breathtaking landscapes and rich culture, the country still faces numerous challenges and a lack of resources, making it the perfect place for those looking to make a difference through volunteering. I went at the end of 2015 instead of going on the traditional school leavers and spent a few weeks in a local village on the outskirts of East Timor focusing on education, healthcare, infrastructure and construction.

Challenges East Timor face:

  1. Poverty: Despite significant economic growth in recent years, poverty remains a major issue in East Timor. Many people still live in poverty, especially in rural areas, and lack access to basic necessities like clean water and healthcare.

  2. Limited infrastructure: The country's infrastructure is still in its early stages of development, which makes it difficult for people to access basic services like healthcare, education, and clean water. Additionally, the lack of reliable transportation and communication infrastructure makes it difficult for people to access markets and engage in economic activities.

  3. Unemployment: Unemployment remains high in East Timor, particularly among the youth, making it difficult for people to earn a livelihood and support their families.

  4. Education: Access to education is limited in many parts of East Timor, particularly in rural areas. Many schools lack basic resources like textbooks and trained teachers, which makes it difficult for children to receive a quality education.

  5. Healthcare: The country's healthcare system is still developing, and access to basic medical services is limited, particularly in rural areas. This means that many people are unable to receive the healthcare they need to stay healthy.

  6. Political instability: Despite a peaceful transition to independence in 2002, East Timor has faced ongoing political instability, which has hindered its economic and social development.

Interested in getting involved? Volunteering in East Timor

There are several non-profit organisations that operate in East Timor and offer volunteering in East Timor opportunities. Here are a few:

  1. Habitat for Humanity: This organisation works to provide safe and affordable housing to communities in need. They also work to promote sustainable development and disaster response if you are interested in volunteering in East Timor.

  2. World Vision: World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation that works to improve the lives of children and communities in East Timor through programs in areas such as health, education, and economic development.

  3. CARE International: CARE is a leading humanitarian organisation that works in more than 90 countries, including East Timor. They focus on empowering communities, promoting gender equality, and responding to emergencies.

  4. Catholic Relief Services: This organisation is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. They work in East Timor to improve the lives of people in need through programs in agriculture, health, and education.

  5. Oxfam: Oxfam is an international confederation of 20 organisations working in over 90 countries, including East Timor. They work to end poverty, promote human rights, and create a more just world.


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