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
In 2019, Michele Rankin, who supported the organisation from 2016-2017, returns to Balibo CLC to build the capacity of the Balibo CLC Program Coordinator and management team to design, manage and evaluate development, training and health activities in partnership with the Balibo community.
Her local experience in project management will help her work alongside Timorese counterparts to improve:
- Capacity of the management team to devise strategies and programs that meet the needs of the community.
- Computer literacy, financial and business management and evaluation skills to build a more knowledgeable and self-sustaining organisation.
- Community confidence in the Centre, increasing participation in CLC’s programs which supports positive community development.
- Ability of the management team and staff to engage and maintain collaborative and productive working relationships to broaden community opportunities.
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Due to Covid-19, Michele was repatriated back to Australia earlier this year. Michele is still partnering with Balibo CLC through on-line mentoring in a full-time capacity.
Is the Project Sustainable?
Palms Australia has been supporting the development of Balibo CLC’s community engagement programs since 2012. In this time, the programs have evolved to engage a wider cohort of the community and requests have become increasingly specialised in fields of management, finance and record keeping, and tourism. Michelle’s work builds on the progress she made during her previous engagement with the centre and the progress of fellow Palms volunteers.
This is a two-year mentoring project. At the end of the training period, the Balibo CLC management team will develop their own initiative to design, manage and evaluate their activities. The Balibo CLC team will have trust from the community and engage the community in their own development process.