Almost 70% of Timor’s population is young people under twenty-five. In the remote community of Balibo, a town that was heavily damaged by militia violence during Timor-Leste’s fight for independence, this issue is compounded by a high youth unemployment rate that continues to rise.
Due to its remoteness, Balibo also faces poor connectivity and regular power outages. The lack of access to water in the dry season and excess of water during the wet makes accessing urban services even more difficult.
To help address some of these issues, the Balibo Community Learning Centre (CLC) was established in 2004. The centre provides opportunities for local people to gain valuable vocational skills training and services in hospitality, dental hygiene, English, computer literacy, women’s health and more.
How We’re Helping
The team at Balibo CLC specifically requested someone with skills in lesson planning and English language tuition to train 5 teachers at the Centre and more than 20 students. English language skills would allow the community to better support their various tourist ventures.
In March 2019, Palms sent Gabrielle Rankin from Brisbane for a two year placement, however COVID-19 forced her repatriation in March 2020.
The unplanned break in her placement challenged community implementation of strategies, however, confidence and self-reliance grew through mentoring online. One of Gabby’s counterparts, Rofina, can be seen here conducting an English class on her own that would otherwise have been done working alongside Gabby.
Bouyed by the recognition of what had been achieved the community is keen to develop more sustainability and self-reliance through implementation of the next phase of face-to-face training. Any donations will cover Gabby’s airfares, insurances, basic living allowances, and support for ongoing work with the women of Balibo over another 12 months.
Is the Project Sustainable?
By providing training for 5 local teachers at Balibo CLC over several months, this project will enable staff at the Centre to better serve the educational needs of local students. The Centre has identified English language skills as an area of skill development that will help these students meet the demand for emerging tourism opportunities within the Balibo area, supported by new infrastructure and facilities that have enabled more travellers to visit the remote village.
As part of an ongoing engagement between Palms and Balibo CLC, this project is supported by the work of Palms volunteers who have preceded Gabby in working alongside the teaching staff, and by fellow Palms volunteer Michele, who will be working at the Centre in the role of Institutional Development Mentor.